Ladies and Gentlemen–I present to you, my version of Hell.
Finished? Okay, now I’ll explain.
I am one of the lucky ones. My first novel won me a contest which led to Deidre Knight offering me representation. Then–Holy Hannah!–what followed was every debut writer’s dream scenario: a pre-empt sparked an auction scenario for The Trouble With Fate, and I ended up with a 3 book deal with St. Martin’s Press.
Now, I’m not going to whitewash it. Looking back, I can admit that I was thoroughly spoiled. None of the usual things happened to me. Pre-sale, I didn’t languish in rejections. And once the contract was signed, I didn’t have to do a big rewrite on what was then called Hedi’s Book of Rules, and is now called The Trouble With Fate.
Not because I was particularly brilliant. The truth is, by the time my editor, Holly Blanck, received the manuscript it had already gone through the revision process several times. She read it over, asked me to add some things and I did. And that, as they say was that.
Thus, I formed the opinion that if I really, really worked hard, I possessed the writer skills to present Holly with a bullet-proof second book.
I’d forgotten how many people had offered their comments about my first book and I’d totally minimized how many weeks of revision I’d spent making TTWF all bright and shiny. Dumbass that I was, I hit ‘send’ thinking my manuscript for Hedi’s 2nd adventure was damn fine.
And it wasn’t, and I had a 5 day melt-down, wherein I cut out a whole bunch of unnecessary rehash, and pretty much hated everyone except my family and the short fat black dog. (Sorry, Holly, kind of loathed you for 72 hours, too).
In between then and now, I’ve fallen in the cat’s water bowl, torn out 16K of unnecessary sludge, written a whole bunch of new shit, and realized something fairly important.
My editor was mostly right.
Yeah, that line would have worked better if I said she was completely right, but (a) I’m not that nice and (b) nobody’s right 100% of the time, right?
Anyhow. Without the bloat, the book is stronger. And now, when I look at my list of to-do’s for this interminable edit, I keep reminding myself of what Holly wrote in the editorial letter that caused me to go through two boxes of Prilosec and sleep upright for one solid week: “…I promised you that I would help make every one of your books into the best possible book it can be. “
Why’d I ever wrestle that promise out of her?
Last week, after I’d emerged from the end of God-I-hate-everybody-and-their-freakin’-dog misery, I sent my agent, Deidre Knight, an email about my progress through hell because that’s what I do. Whenever I feel the need to share, I do.
And since then, I’ve thought about it and I’ve decided to share it with you, too.
Oh, and this. I don’t hate my editor any more. Which is good, because she’s smart, and she works hard, and I’m hoping between the two of us we’ll get a book out there that will knock your socks off.
Or at least, loosen your garters.