Editor Requests Revision
Two weeks ago, I got a revision letter from an editor about a picturebook. Hurrah!
You can guess what I did. I tore the mss apart and revised and revised. I read it aloud. I reseached typical dialogue for different regional dialects, so I could personalize the characters. I sharpened the conflict. I cut. (OK, I know you’re laughing here, because my typical comment with picturebooks is to cut the length by one-third.) In short, I did a great revision. I almost sent it out last week.
But I forced myself to wait.
Wait. Do you know how much I hate waiting? Besides, I know how to revise, right? What more could the mss need?
LOTS. I sent it to my critique group and they had significant suggestions. No, not major things. And I wanted to SCREAM at how nit-picky they were. By now, I had changed so much that some of the character names were no longer appropriate. For one character, I had to call a friend to check on dialect characteristics for a specific ethnic group. With an emotional few tears, I finally accepted that even the main character needed a name change. Much to my dismay, my critiquers had pointed out two small (tiny–how could they even think of that?!) logic flaws that I had to address. Some insightful person wanted the conflict to begin on page one. I combed it yet again for micro-cuts, making sure I avoided the pitfall of doing every change the Line-Editor-Critiquer suggested.
I love my critiquers! They were right! The result was a tighter, better mss, possible ONLY because I had waited and asked for help.
I wish I could convey to you how much I hate this part of the process and how painful it is to have my baby torn apart before my eyes and how much I ignore all the nice things people say and only focus on the things that need work. It is painful. The process of getting critiques and doing that last, crucial revision is painful.
Say a prayer for my new baby making its way into the world even as you read this. May it find a lovely home!
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