Writers must be insane. We spend countless hours pouring our hearts out into our work, nurturing our characters, giving our story legs to stand on its own merit, and falling in love with what we have created. Then, we let out a loud sigh of relief as we step back from it. Like any good parent would, we want to show others the glory of this new and powerful force of nature, also known as our story…
And then those blood thirsty vampire editors get their claws in your baby. Violent red slashes scar the face of your once well-crafted pages. Cradled in your arms, your anger grows at those who have no foresight, no imagination, no understanding of what you had created.
Hmmm…I might be a little dramatic, but I think most new writers feel like this on some level when their manuscript is returned from an editor. I know I did. It was a though he had picked up my daughter and spanked her right in front of me, leaving a mark. I was furious. I denied the changes he suggested were needed. He obviously didn’t understand!
I repeated that last statement to myself for a few months before I could even look at the marked up manuscript again. Eventually, I realized that I was absolutely correct. He didn’t understand. And if he didn’t understand, then there was a good chance future readers weren’t going to understand either.
Tough love hurts, regardless which side you’re on at the time. This time, I was the one that was receiving it. The question was, would I listen and learn from it. I chose to listen.
Bowing my head in shame, I learned from his notes and rewrote damn near most of the manuscript to resolve the issues at hand. It was painful. It was brutal. And I have to admit, it was a much better manuscript.
It’s hard for new writers to be let go and have honest opinions about your work. Typically you’ll need to look outside of your normal circle of family and friends to get one. But take the time to research and find a good editor. Sure, it might cost you some money to do so, but it’s well worth it.
…To finish my own personal story, I sent in my updated manuscript, only to have it returned with more suggestions. It’s a learning curve. I had my first book edited a dozen times before it was a book worth reading. And yes, it was worth it.