Sunday, October 18, 2009

Potholes in the Rocky Road of Publishing

I'm writing this on Wednesday morning after missing a call from our dear editor Tuesday afternoon while I was out cutting the grass--and after I'd returned her call only to get her answering machine. This was, as you might imagine, a call I'd been waiting for since September 20th when I sent in the manuscript for the sixth book in the Cat Star Chronicles series, Hero. Right now, my hands and feet are cold and I feel an odd fluttering in my chest. How I managed to sleep last night is a mystery. This morning I had to get up early to go to a unit meeting at the hospital. My friend, Suzy, called me at 6:45 and told me not to come. It was cold, dark, and raining and she was sure that nothing very important would be covered at the meeting (she was right), but I went anyway just to give myself something to do before I could make that call. Now I'm writing this blog to kill time before I call her again. I hate being on pins and needles, but in all honesty, I've felt that way ever since I began writing it.

It's hard to write something that you know will eventually have to be altered to meet with someone else's approval. Back when I wrote for fun, I'd write a book the way I wanted it, print it up and let my friends read it. They either liked it or they didn't; there was no rewrite. Being published changes things. Yes, you're always anxious to know what readers think of your work, but for those of you who think getting your sixth book published should be easy, let me tell you this: IT IS NEVER EASY! Fortunately, I do have some feedback from my unofficial critique partner, Marie Force, who read it and liked it. Her chief complaint was that there wasn't enough sex! Imagine that!

Writing this blog now is probably wise, because I'm sure my time will be soon be usurped by the need to revise the manuscript. As the author, I thought it was fine when I sent it in, but when you've worked on something constantly for the past several months, you don't always see the flaws. It's always amazing to me that by the time I get to those final galley proofs of a book, there are still things I want to change.

********************************************************
Now I have talked with her. The gist of it is, she wants me to add more romance to what is, essentially, a science fiction adventure story. The first third of the book needs to be "reconceived" to make it read more like a romance novel and less like Star Wars.

I'm supposed to take a week off from writing while the assistant editor reads it and gives us her two cents worth. Then I do the rewrite and have it back to her by November 4th. I wish this process was a little more straightforward, and that I could get feedback along the way instead of handing in a finished product that really isn't finished. It isn't that the changes I'll have to make won't make it a better book, but it's very different from the way I view things in light of my "other" career. As a critical care nurse, I pretty much have to do things right the first time or someone dies. No one dies when you don't get a book right. I have to keep telling myself that, but at the same time, when I'm told that this, this, and this, is not right about the book, I feel like I've committed a cardinal sin. This, of course, is not the case, but it's still how I feel.

The ideas will kick around in my head for a while and then they will emerge and the process will continue. I'll probably like the second version of Hero better than the first, but, oh, how those potholes will rattle your brain when you first hit them. . . .

16 comments:

  1. Hero is awesome, and I know it will be even more awesome after you revise. Did I say that about more sex?? LOL! Funny how you said my new book needed LESS sex! What's wrong with this picture?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good luck on revisions, Cheryl! You can do it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Cheryl, don't sweat it! Going back to it with someone else's vision will help, and the time away will be good for you!

    Additional input is always good.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sounds like your editor has asked you to do an emergency appendectomy on Peaches, on your kitchen table, with a rusty pocketknife?? It sounds awful!! You are, however, one of my favorite authors, and I'm sure you'll persevere and make the book wonderful in the long run! (I know, dogs don't have appendexi--dexes?)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cheryl,
    I think I'm at the other end of the spectrum. I'm constantly wanting to 'fiddle' with my manuscript to make it better. Eventually, it reaches the point of diminishing returns. LOL!

    It IS difficult to try and alter your vision of the story to fit with someone else. Luckily we have a very savvy editor who wants our books to succeed just as much as we do!

    Having just finished my own round of revisions, I know they can be a tought slog. But you WILL get there, girlfriend, and the book WILL be better for it!

    AC

    ReplyDelete
  6. I know, Marie! I think somewhere along the line we must have traded places or something. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You and Donna are right, Terry, but that moment when the "I've screwed this whole thing up and I'll never be able to fix it" feeling hits me, I go bananas. Deb should probably stick to emailing me so she doesn't have to hear it!

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's not quite that traumatic, Suzy, but it's close! I get over it eventually (I'm already feeling better about it) but in those first few hours I feel sort of hopeless. Thank you so much for your continued confidence and support!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I always feel like I'm at the point of diminishing returns when I send in a manuscript, Cindy. The weird thing is that I'm never right about what our editor will like or not like. The things she focuses on nearly always come as a complete surprise. Guess I need more critique partners to prepare me!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I agree don't sweat this. You will make it better than ever. You have such a sexy subject. Adding more romance should be as easy as pie. We have complete confidence The CAT MASTER can pull this off.
    I'm still laughing at the fact Marie has to tame hers done and you need to spice yours up. Who rubbed off on who?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yes, Donna, Trag is totally sexy, and he knows it, too!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am not a big fan of rewriting things and I think if I seriously pursue writing I'll have to get used to that XD

    ReplyDelete
  13. I haven't gotten used to it yet, Ana. Not sure I ever will. Most of the time I'm okay with it once I get going, but it's the getting started on it that's hard. Good luck with your writing!

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's so encouraging, never having got to the publisher, editor stage, to read how the edits get done and how someone really cares how you revise. Good luck with it. It's bound to be great.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks, Sheila! I'm glad you find this encouraging, rather than daunting! Your time will come!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Needs more romance?!?!?! Not enough sex?!?!?! Cheryl, what in the world are we going to use to dissolve Dominique into a puddle if you go tame on us?!?!?! Say it ain't so!

    I know you will get the job done as brilliantly as always. But we all feel your pain. Keep us posted!

    ReplyDelete