I love Halloween. Like, I really love funny scary (NOT scary, scary) decorations and parties and costumes. I don't go all out, but Halloween kicks off the holiday season for me. This past Halloween, however, I had a lot more on my mind than making crescent wrapped hot dogs to look like mummies for my kids.
I started to come down with one of the worst viruses I've ever had. It was not the flu, but I was hurting. It was also when my book revisions for A Promise Remembered hit. I consistently pray for good timing so I was extremely grateful that by the time I really started to get sick, I had already hit "send" on my book revisions. My little baby of a book was now completely out of my hands. And I celebrated the milestone by slamming Night Quill and crashing for ten days. (I told you I was really sick).
Now that I have had time to recover and reflect on what a whirlwind book revisions really are, I came up with a list of things I learned through the process. I spent the first six years of my post-grad, professional life working in Higher Education. And the great thing about working for a university is that its cyclical. There is a beginning of the school year and an end of the school year. Time for re-training and time to figure out how to do things differently. Not every work environment has that. So, as I've carried on the habit of assessing and reassessing, here's my list of what I learned.
1. It's okay to not know what the heck you're doing the first time you have to do something. This includes revising your book. I nearly had a panic attack when my editor sent me her first round of revisions and I couldn't even figure out how to open! My husband just stood in the kitchen and watched me meltdown. Then he calmly told me to eat dinner. (I was hangry.) Afterward, I opened the file like a normal person. The excitement and stress got to me. If this happens to you, eat. Okay, maybe that's not the best advice but it worked for me.
2. Your editor is reading your story with fresh eyes. She wants the pacing to be great. She wants a page turner. She wants your book to be the best it can be so it can succeed! She may also want to cut the three lines it took you to describe the way your hero walked across the room. She will cut...and cut...and cut. And guess what. That's a good thing. Trust that she's brilliant (because she is) and remember - when in doubt, cut it out!
3. You will begin to doubt your writing skills. Any insecurities you've ever had about language use will come front and center when you're staring at your editor's notes.
"SADDLED? - Did you mean SIDLED? As in he sidled up to the counter?"
Sure, you'll cringe at your mistake. You'll pray you didn't confuse 'you're' and 'your' anywhere in your manuscript. Then you'll move on.
4. You'll realize just how much of yourself you put in the book when it's final crunch time. These words will be on the page FOR-EV-ER. What you wrote and how you wrote it cannot ever be changed once you hit 'submit'. This will make you nervous. This will make you read and re-read and drive yourself a little crazy.
It's okay. Push through this feeling. Write the best book you can at-this-moment-in-time. Your next book will be better and the one after that will be even better. Leave the parts of yourself right there on the page. That's probably where they were always meant to be anyway.
5. Celebrate when you're done! And do something more exciting than getting sick, huh? No one else will see all the work you've done until the book is printed and in their hot little hands. So it's up to you to celebrate each milestone along the way. Celebrate when you complete the first draft of your manuscript. Celebrate when you get your first book contract. And celebrate when you finish revisions! Have your family or friends take you out for appetizers and toast you, because finishing revisions is a big achievement.