Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Five Stages of Grief...and Revisions

I attended the births of both of my children. They were magnificent moments. Full of magic and wonder.  Elation and great outpourings of joy.  Spectacular. They only just barely compare to the feelings I had a few weeks ago when I finally clicked "send" on my latest batch of revisions and got them back into the hands of my agent.

I handed out cigars.  I pulled aside every passerby I could find and proudly pointed at the email sitting in my sent folder.  "See that one there," I said.  "That one's gonna be a star.  Something special."

You see, revisions are a handful.  And the process usually goes a little something like this...

1.  Denial and Isolation

When I first got my manuscript back from my agent with a lovely batch of feedback from some of the best and brightest editors out there in the old publishing shindig, I just deleted the email.  I mean, whatever.  They didn't really ask me to make changes.  I mean, who would do that?  Right?  Instead of hitting the revisions,  I huddled in a little ball and whenever my family would approach I'd push them away or hiss if they didn't get the message the first time.  Just good old dad, crumpled in a corner and alternating between rambling about none of this being real or snarling like a cornered Komodo Dragon with rabies.  It wasn't pretty.

2.  Anger

They were kidding, right?  My characters were too flat?  My characters are like the Rockies.  Majestic and towering.  Every little detail becoming more distinct with each passing moment.  I mean, I totally nailed the beautiful, bookish, wallflower who discovers their true strength lies in their love for a sparkly werewolf.  Please.  The angry mob in my brain grabbed their pitchforks.  My genre, which I like to describe as Incurable Disease Teen Vampire Steampunk Romance Cozy Mystery, didn't fit into their current list?  Do these people spend any time at all looking at what's hot on Amazon?  Sheesh.  Do your jobs, people.

3.  Bargaining

Okay.  I just want my book on a shelf.  So, just tell me.  What do I have to do?  I'll do anything?  John Green is hot, right?  I mean, I saw TFIOS with, like, three hundred tween girls who all seemed to have practiced in advanced the timing of their sighs.  I can do that.  I'll just pick a disease and then throw in the modern romance of our times and fill it with insight and respect for what it really means to be a teen.  Easy peasey.  If that's what you want.  I mean, I'll do anything.  Please. Please. Please. Please. Please.

4.  Depression

I stink.

5.  Acceptance

As I already mentioned, I clicked send on my revisions just a couple of weeks ago.  Revisions are just part of the package, folks.  If you aren't ready to dig into your stories and put constructive criticism to work, then you're in the wrong business.  Every. Single. Book. At. Your. Favorite. Bookstore. Was. Not. Born. Perfect.  In many ways, writing a book (and making a career out of it) is a team effort.  Sure, you're the quarterback.  You call the plays.  You get the glory.  But, there's an offensive line that's always pushing towards the end zone and if they tell you that your game needs some work, you listen.  Because if they give up on you, your efforts are rewarded with a mouthful of sod.

--Paul A.

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