Last week I feel like I worked endlessly and yet nothing changed. I spent seventy-five percent of my free time staring mindlessly into space, completely stuck after writing… oh, maybe six words?
Here are three things I wish I’d known about edit letters:
1. You’ll spend a lot of time staring at your inbox. I had no interest in opening the edit letter when it arrived. I was busy. On deadline. Making dinner. Emailing my boss. Eating dinner. Eating ice cream. Pouring wine. Even when I set aside time, I still couldn’t click the subject line. I was too scared about what laid within. I felt like a lion lay inside my computer, curling its paws, preparing to pounce.
2. Every problem unravels another problem. I made a lovely to-do list full of all the changes I needed to make. And then I started going through the manuscript, scene by scene. “Easy,” I thought. “I’ll just make lists.”
Easy enough — until I got to the first Big Story Problem: deleting a whole character. Suddenly, every scene required a change. Not easy changes. Big changes. Like I’d swung a sledgehammer through the structure of the novel, and suddenly every floor needed new subfloor and hardwood flooring and all the support beams were cracked. Basically: stress. Every change begets another change, and I still haven’t sorted all of the ramifications out.
3. Sometimes you just need to rant at someone. My poor husband. I ruined our all-you-can-eat macaroni-and-cheese bar dining experience by ranting for an hour about ghosts. The next night, I ruined pizza night (it was a weekend, shut up) by ranting for another hour about cults. I drank many beers and many wines trying to sort out all of the problem. But you know what really helped? All that ranting. I always came to the right conclusion. Eventually.