It’s rewrite time!
Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack returned to my doorstep this week with a two and a half page letter from Nancy attached.
I once received a 15 page editorial letter from Nancy. (That was for Sammy Keyes and the Curse of Moustache Mary when I had a full time job teaching, my kids were tiny, and I was seriously frayed from trying to keep it all together.) So I know—a two-and-a-half page editorial letter isn’t bad.
Besides, I don’t read the letter right away.
It’s full of work, and I know it.
Instead, I go straight to the manuscript and flip through it page by page, ignoring all the little red marks that do not say HA! or NICE! or GREAT!
I live from HA! to HA! if you must know. It’s what keeps me going through the daunting process of analyzing three hundred pages of edits, especially after spending the past six months re-writing the same manuscript into what I hoped was a state of perfection.
Well, near perfection, anyway.
But now here it is, back on my desk, bloodied.
Actually. the pencil she used may be red, but it’s a faint red. I’m not sure if her glasses have gotten stronger of if I just need a pair myself, but some places the writing is so small and faint that I can’t help but wonder if she was on her bed, recovering from a nasty flu, or perhaps a migraine that stress from tardy manuscripts has been known to trigger.
Regardless, I don’t want to read the faint stuff at first anyway, so at this stage I’m perfectly fine with not being able to see it. I focus on only the HAs and NICEs and GREATs in their glorious swoopy red circles so I can gather into my psyche the strength needed to lift a magnifying glass and face all the scribbled suggestions.
But after I’ve soaked in all the good stuff, I still don’t read the letter.
I boycott it.
I'm not yet ready to face what’s wrong with what I’ve written.
So I shove the letter along with the manuscript inside a desk drawer and let the good stuff settle in for a day or two.
It needs time to get securely attached.
Really, it does.
And then, finally, when the good stuff is settled and secure (and can claim squatter’s rights on my emotional state), I pull open the drawer and face the work.
First I read the letter.
Then I let out a big sigh of relief.
Not so bad.
Then I re-read the letter, this time making notes about broad-picture corrections and needed additions (or adjustments in tone).
Then I take a deep breath, roll up my sleeves, and start on page one of the manuscript, grateful that I’ve got an editor who is still willing to show such attention to detail and give me such astute feedback—even on the 15th book in a series.