Writing Posts

Editing a Novel as an Impostor

Hello, lovelies!

So, as many of you know, I’ve been working on BLOOD PRICE for a number of years now, really trying to put my best foot forward with this novel. I’ve very proud of it and think it’s my best work to date. I queried it last fall and got some positive responses: a full request, plus two other requests for pages, amongst many polite and silent rejections. All of them turned into rejections, with one offer for a revise and resubmit from my full request, giving feedback on the worldbuilding that I completely agree with.

Encouraged and excited, I decided to finally do something I’d never had the guts (nor the finances) to do: hire a professional editor to look at my novel. I had a vague idea of where I needed to improve it, but I wanted guidance, as this novel is one of my heart and soul. It’s not the only novel of my heart. Every novel is, while I work on it, and every novel has a special place within it forever. But this one…this one I’m publishing, one way or another. I must.

But I want to give traditional publishing one final shot.

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So, I sent my novel off to Jeni Chappelle, who I adore. I’d worked with her before through ShoreIndie on a behind-the-scenes capacity and it was really, really fun. I always knew, if I was going to hire an editor, it’d be her. We came up with a game plan and I got excited. My novel is going to be critique by a professional editor! I’m going to figure out “everything” that’s still “wrong” with it and then have a guiding hand to help fix it! This was something I’d always wanted to do, but just never had everything line up correctly to be able to do it. It felt like I was finally taking a step in the right direction.

Then, the dread set in.

What if she hates it? What if the novel is so much worse than what I thought it was? What if I’m incapable of incorporating the edits she recommends? What if I disagree with them? What if she doesn’t see the same vision I do? What if this crushes me?

Obviously, I’m still the same dramatic writer inside my head that I was when I just started, over a dozen years ago (and, of course, I recognize I’ll need to work on toughening my skin before publication; it’s all a work-in-progress, okay?).

I received my first round of feedback last week and I’m happy to report that she didn’t hate it (yay!) and that I agreed 100% with what she recommended (double yay!). She recommended some craft books that I immediately purchased and am excited to dig into. I also set a pretty intense editing schedule so I won’t allow myself to give into fear and I just got so giddy.

Yet one fear just won’t go away.

What if I’m not good enough to do these edits justice?

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Don’t get me wrong: the critiques on my worldbuilding are spot on and I definitely see how this is going to make my story stronger. I agree with them and I already have a few ideas (though I’m waiting to dig into my manuscript until after I speak with Jeni and read a little bit from the books I ordered). But I think I’m also hesitating because I’m terrified that I’m somehow going to make my story worse. That I’m not capable as a writer to make these changes, because, if I was qualified enough to write in the way I’m advise to do, wouldn’t I have done it already?

I hope you’re shaking your head right now.

Because sometimes, I can be positively foolish.

One: even if I somehow mess up and my novel weakens with my additions, this isn’t permanent. I can still go back and edit it again. It’s not like all hope is lost. Two: I used to think the first novel I ever wrote was the most amazing thing ever (on my good days, when I didn’t think it needed to be set on fire) and now, I’ve grown so much as a writer, I don’t even want to read it, let alone admit it exists, because it is so bad. But, I needed that book, in order to be able to eventually write BLOOD PRICE one day, something I’m legitimately proud of. Everything I’ve done and everything I’m about to do, from working with Jeni to reading craft books, has led up to preparing me for these edits. I should have more faith in myself. Three: instead of fearing so much about the outcome, how about let’s enjoy the excitement of diving into a manuscript you love so much again? Look at it as a challenge, to try and outdo what you’ve already done. Make it a game that you’re excited to return to, each and every day.

Thinking of it like that doesn’t completely erase that fear, but it does bring what’s important to the forefront of my mind again: I’m a writer. Telling stories is what I do. Natanni’s story deserves this level of concern, but it also has earned and deserves my excitement and joy while working on it. And I’m going to choose to hold onto those, instead of my fear, as I edit it again.post signature

Wish me luck!


18 thoughts on “Editing a Novel as an Impostor”

  1. Best of luck with it Nicole! You know I’m rooting for this story, so if you need another round of betas at some point or anything else, don’t hesitate to let me know 🙂.

  2. I NEED to know what she said! I’ll do invested that I need to know all the things, lol! I’m so excited and I can’t wait for this book to sit in my shelf!

    Go kill this time of exits like I know you will!

  3. Big step! You’ve got this Nicole…I know the author brain can’t be helped but you got this. You’ll get your story written and it’ll see the light of day.

  4. Good luck! Honestly, you are putting in the work and as you say, one way or another you are putting this out there. So this is going to be awesome no matter what happens.

    God though, your imposter syndrome when you got the edits resonated so deeply with me. I have some betas and an editor I really trust and honestly when they get back with stuff where I’m like ‘Ouch, you’re right thoguh, you’re completely right’ I … panic. Just like I panic at the start of every new book. That I’m not good enough to make the changes, or that I’ve forgotten how to write.

    We can only keep trying though. And as you say, you can always go back and take another swing at it.

    Also just wanted to say it’s really interesting to see you in the same place I was with my debut — I was querying and getting good responses, but I knew that if trad didn’t work out, I would self-publish anyway because this was the one that I *had* to publish. In my case I cut my querying short because I fell in love with self-pub while I was waiting for responses so it’s not QUITE the same XD but even so.

    You believe in your book. You are putting the time and effort in. And I’m so excited to read it, however and whenever it pops up in my feed ready to buy.

    1. VICTORIA! *cries forever* How do you always write the most poignant and heartwarming replies, honestly, I can’t. ❤ ❤ ❤

      Thank you! I think it's so odd how I always go through this cycle, too, because as I've started editing, I've gotten really excited and I've really enjoyed the changes I've made in my first two chapters so far, which is building my confidence, but I'll STILL get caught up in nerves and doubt when I try to move onto the next chapter! It can be truly infuriating, at times.

      I'm sorry you deal with a similar struggle, because I wouldn't wish this on any creative. But, at the same time, I feel like all creatives do deal with this, on some level?

      And thank you for sharing your story, I love that!! And I about died when you said you'd buy this book. *cries again*

      1. I’m so glad it was a positive comment for you! I absolutely meant it. I am completely excited for when you publish your book and I absolutely will buy it. And yeah, these kind of doubts do seem to plague a lot of us. Nothing for it but to do our best and share our stories anyway!

        I can tell you I was so doubtful that anyone would want to read my book that I almost sabotaged by own kickstarter for it. I was so sure it would fail.

        But it didn’t and I published my book and I have no regrets. It’s amazing for people to finally read the words you wrote. I’m sure whatever path you take, you will find your fears are unfounded and that it’s better than you imagine!

      2. EEEP. *passes out*

        Exactly! Nothing will conquer our doubt more than just pushing forward regardless. I am SO PROUD OF YOU for pushing through it and already getting your stories out there!

  5. Okay, it’s great timing to read this post because I’ve just been crafting a post myself about imposter syndrome. I wish I could say that these feelings go away … but that has not been my experience. I’ve been agented now for over a year, but my book hasn’t sold—and imposter syndrome is killing me lately! I mean, obviously I can’t write. Why bother finishing my next book when no one thinks the first one was good enough? Every edit I ever made to that first book was a mistake … yeah, the list goes on.

    This month, I am hunkering down with my WIP and getting it DONE. No matter what. It’s not going to be perfect, but I need to figure out how to get past that and have faith in myself. I still hope that one day this first book will be published (it truly is the book of my heart), but maybe it won’t happen, and I have to be okay with that.

    Basically, all that is to say, writing is HARD and you are in good company. Every writer I know suffers from some form of imposter syndrome. The struggle is real!!

    1. At least none of us are alone in this struggle, we can most certainly take comfort in that, for sure!!

      And gosh, I can only imagine how honestly the impostor syndrome just INCREASES after getting an agent and then going on sub. I can’t imagine how stressful that must be. I am SO PROUD of you, though, for continuing to write and tell your stories and chase your dreams, no matter what the fate of your first book is (though I hope it gets picked up soon!!). ❤

  6. I …. well, to be completely honest with you, I kind of want to cry while reading this post. I haven’t hired a professional editor (yet?), yet all of your fears deeply echo within me every single day. I have worked for years on a story that feels very close to my heart and, even if maybe it won’t be the one that make it, I am terrified that every edit I make, no matter how small or big, might ruin everything. Or is there anything to ruin, really, or is it all a mess to start with? Impostor syndrom is hitting me really hard ahah as you can tell. You will do incredibly well, Nicole, I am rooting for you always ❤ ❤

    1. Trust me, I wanted to cry while writing it (and at the fact that this impostor continues to try and show up EVERY time I sit down to edit, no matter what I did or how good I felt about the session before).

      But I understand that completely! I have been working on BLOOD PRICE for what feels like ages and it is a book that is SO IMPORTANT to me, I just want to make sure I get it “right,” which is so hard to do, because who to determine what’s “right” in a story you’re trying to tell, when you have so many avenues to choose from?

      I think, at the end of the day, we just gotta remind ourselves why we’re writing our stories and how much we grow each time we work on it and how we can ALWAYS change it and help it grow, too.

      Rooting for you just as hard, lovely. ❤ ❤

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