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My First Editorial Letter … Or rather, The Day My Mind Blew Up

Thursday, 4 July 2013  |  Posted by Brenda Drake
 My First Editorial Letter … Or rather, The Day My Mind Blew Up

There are many firsts in our lives. Some make our hearts sing and some rip our hearts right from our chests, tossing them on the floor in a bloody mess. You may have thought that last line would be followed by “and that’s how I felt when I got my first editorial letter” but that would be wrong. It wasn’t like that at all.Well, it was less bloody, anyway.

It was more like, I was going through my daily routine, and my email dinged. I glanced at my email folder, and it was from my editor. I immediately got excited … and then my stomach dropped to my knees. I glanced away, glanced at the screen again, and then glanced away again.
I had turned to the animal kingdom surrounding my desk and asked, “I should probably open it, right?”
 I shakily held the cursor over the email, took a deep breath, and clicked.
 And I didn’t know how I was going to respond to the notes. They were daunting and fabulous at the same time. So I read through the pages of broad-stroke suggestions in the editorial letter, pausing for several minutes over the gushing remarks (maybe more than several minutes). Then I stepped away, a little beaten and scared, to let it all digest.

When I dragged myself to the computer later, I had a plan. I would start with the track changes and take it one page at time. There was so much to do, but I focused only on the page I was working on to avoid freaking out. After I had conquered the track changes, I read the editor letter again (it was probably the twentieth time) and tackled the areas that are my Kryptonite.

I’m not one for the icky love stuff, I’d rather have my characters kill each other than love each other, but without the inner conflicts the outer ones won’t be as poignant. So I had some growth to go, and I had to have my characters get in touch with their emotions. And it seemed like every time I changed something, I had to remember to go through and change it throughout the manuscript. It was like when you pull a string on your shirt and before long the whole thing unravels and you’re left there standing exposed and whimpering. Yeah, just like that.
Anyway, I pushed up my sleeves and got to work and before I knew it, I’d finished. On. Deadline.
And shortly after that (like right after I’d hit send), I was given book two’s deadline . . .
So what did I learn? Tons. Like, if  you miss anything in the first edits, there’s always the copy edits right around the corner for your wonderful editor to remind you (thankfully she was kind) that you didn’t quite get it. I also learned you can say a whole lot of wonderful in fewer words. I also learned you can say a lot with fewer words.
What’s the lesson for you? Never panic. It’s not as bad as it seems at first, it’s worse. Kidding. Maybe.
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