On Tuesday, I received the first round of edits on a short story. This story will be my first published work when it appears next month in an anthology. (I’ll announce more details later when we’re closer to the publication date.)
This is really my first experience with the editing process. I had heard from other writers that getting an editor’s feedback on one’s first work could be “daunting.” “Heartbreaking,” “infuriating” and “ego crushing” were other terms I heard about the experience.
With those words crashing around inside my skull, I opened an email from the publisher’s senior editor with more than a little fear. She had been my mentor during the GCLS Writing Academy program, so I knew she would be encouraging and supportive. I also knew that the edits I would be working with weren’t hers, but those suggested by the anthology’s editor. Would the anthology’s editor be equally supportive? Or, was I about to get kicked in the teeth?
At first glance, the number of comments, deletions, and additions was overwhelming. It looked as though the editor’s cursor had touched every line on the page. My gut clenched as all my worst fears about the editing process seemed to come true. Then, I took a deep breath and dove into the reviewing the suggestions.
As it turns out, the editor’s recommendations were… outstanding. Truly. Both editors told me they didn’t expect me to agree with all their suggestions, but they asked that I keep an open mind when reading through their proposed revisions.
I found that I agreed with the majority of the changes they suggested. Those changes tightened up the story and eliminated unneeded tangents. The narrative flowed better when I made those corrections. It was the extra layer of polish needed to improve the story.
The only point I quibbled with was a suggestion about the ending. I pushed back a bit there, sending them a note about why I chose to end the story the way I did. I’m willing to consider a change if they can give me a solid reason why it will improve the work, however.
Roosevelt was right. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.