Thursday, May 07, 2009

Quack, quack


One thing I'm continually learning is that just as soon as you think you have your ducks in a row, one of those ducks goes maverick, and you have to change your plans.
This isn't all bad, but it can be jarring to a list-maker-item-checker-offer like me. I just recently posted my May Goals. Line up, all you little May goal ducks. But, alas, I forgot one duckling in the row.
Yesterday morning the content edit for The Marriage Masquerade showed up in my inbox. If you'll notice, content edits for MM weren't on my May goals. Quack, quack, another duck joined the flock, swimming in happy little circles. So, what to do with my growing family of goals? And this goal was a doozy.
I will freely admit to feeling a little apprehensive seeing that email in my inbox. What if the editor didn't like it? What if I was a one-hit wonder, and the rest of the books in the series tanked? What if she was returning it to me with a 'no, thank you, this stinks?' (Ah, the insecurities of the writerly mind.) With much trepidation, I opened the document.
Have you ever read something kinda out of the corner of your eye, squinting through your lashes, like if you didn't look right at it, then it wouldn't be as bad as you feared? Like when you were little, watching those creepy flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz from between your fingers as you edged backwards across the carpet until you were pressed up against your mom's legs where she sat on the couch. That's kinda what I did.
But, lo and behold, the editor liked the story! Yay! And as I read her comments, tweaks, and notations, I remembered again what the goal here was: To turn out the best manuscript possible. My fab editor, Rachel Overton, isn't out to get me, to denigrate my work, to rewrite my story. She's there as my safety net, my backstop, and I hope as a friend and mentor. And I'd much rather she hammer the manuscript hard while it is still in the editing stage than to let stuff slide that some hawk-eyed reader will pick out. The last thing I want to do is break faith with my readers by turning out sloppy work.
So, today, I changed my plans, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work on content edits on The Marriage Masquerade. And would you believe it, I got all the way through them today. Now I'll let them marinate for awhile before revisiting them one last time. Then I'll send that little duck flying back to the publisher.
The content edits put me in mind of contest entries. In just a few short days, hundreds of contest entries will be winging toward inboxes. Some people will be thrilled with their 'content edits' and some will not. Some will take the words of the judges as they were meant to be taken: As gentle mentoring meant to help the contestant grow in their writing and turn out the best manuscript possible. Some will not be able to see the scores and comments for what they are. There will be hurt feelings, kicked trash cans, and bad thoughts.
If you entered the Genesis or any other contest, or if you've submitted your masterpiece to an agent or editor, then start preparing your heart now. Expect to receive comments that will help you improve your manuscript. Know that the judges, like editors, are motivated by the desire to help you produce great fiction. And keep writing! Those ducks will fall into line.

3 comments:

  1. Wow - ERica, what a great post! I do need to prepare my heart. My skin is far from thick! For whatever reason, I'm so nervous about the Genesis contest. I have to remember that my goal in entering was to receive feedback in order to improve my writing! Thanks for the advice! It is very timely!

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  2. Good for your for wrangling the maverick duck. Good advice too when professionals give us their feeback or critique, they aren't slamming our work but offering their insight into what works best.

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  3. Squinting through my eyelashes and reading out of the corner of my eye--hey! That's how I read my own work sometimes!!! HAHA :)

    Great post! That's the thing about having people you trust read your work--you know the heart motive behind it, and can take the comments and apply them to the work, rather than taking them personally.

    And I'm glad to hear your editor loved the book!!

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