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.
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?
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.
Wish me luck!