Do you get MAD at Editors? I Do

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Have Your Pity Party: But Then Get to Work

When you get the letter from an editor about a revision, what do you do?

Frankly, I get mad. How dare that misguided editor diss my perfect mss?!http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatmeatnow/2113011729/

Only 3 days. For novels, I give myself the luxury of three days of being mad before I get down to work. For 3 days, I get to gripe to my journal, to my DH, to myself. NEVER gripe to anyone else, of course. NEVER jeopardize a great editorial relationship by expressing your frustrations to the public.

Embrace the emotions–then move on. I think it’s important to let these emotions have their play and not deny them. Writing a novel is a bit of an ego trip anyway, don’t you think? I mean,who am I to think that I could tell a story that would hold an audience enthralled? Who am I to think that some world and some characters that I make up from my imagination–well, do you hear all the “I” and “my” in what I’m saying?

Writing a novel is an ego-trip. And when an editor gives “feedback,” my pride says that I don’t need their feedback and they are wrong anyway, because they just didn’t get it.

I’ve expressed this frustration here, too: I Don’t Want an Honest Critique

REALLY read the letter. Of course, three days later,when I have a bit of distance,I REALLY read the letter and, of course, they are right and I wonder why I didn’t see it before.

In the end, you must get over it! And get to work.

2 Common Revision Issues

Audience. I’m dealing with a couple revision letters right now. One is mostly a matter of audience. I’m working on a book for teachers about writing and the editor continually makes minor corrections that will make the material work better for teachers. Audience is everything in these revisions.

If you’re writing a mystery, you must know your audience. Picturebook? What age level child are you writing for? In every type of writing, the audience will determine much of the revision.

Clarity of Communication. A second project is more about fine-tuning the story, making the characters a bit sharper, providing a better ending and probably making the language sing a bit more. Here, it’s story, characters, story arc, and language. Either way, the editor’s goal is better communication.

I do take time to let my ego have it’s pity party; but then, I cut that short and get to work. How long do you allow for a pity party before you get down to work?

5 Comments
  • Natalie Aguirre
    July 19, 2010

    I haven’t gotten a book that far yet. But I could see needing a 3 day pity party. Sometimes I feel that way about critiques in general. But like you said, once you step back you see how the critique could be right.

  • Kristin Wolden Nitz
    July 20, 2010

    I’ve actually never gotten angry with an editor. But that might be more because the editors whom I’ve worked with rather than my temperament. But I have been extremely annoyed with reviewers. For example, one could have left it at “This is a good book,” instead of tacking on, “just not a great one.” But that’s a different situation. You don’t communicate with reviewers.

    And, like everyone, I know that I’ve gotten annoyed with various critiques.

  • holly cupala
    July 21, 2010

    Ha, Darcy, I don’t get mad…I get mortally wounded and terrified! How on earth to accomplish these insurmountable requests? Is my writing actually trash and she’s too nice to tell me? I eventually get over myself. ;)

    Natalie, fancy meeting you here!

  • Lorri Cardwell-Casey
    July 28, 2010

    Well, my friend Darcy, THIS is me, too. This was so excellent that I only wish I’d written it myself! I get mad, then I do my best to get better, meaning my work improves (and I’m, hopefully, smart enough to see the beauty in that), thanks to those editors who “dare” tell me it’s not perfect! Truly. How. Dare. They. (Um…try to make me…better…gulp…)

    But hey, I prefer getting mad over my other reaction–CRYING.

  • e.lee
    September 7, 2010

    Writers have to understand that an editor is not out to take an axe to their MS.