On Being Edited

Posted: March 9, 2022 in writing
Tags: , , , , , ,

So after Followers and during a pandemic, I wrote another novel. Spawned from a blend of world events and inspiration from random history articles, this story took me out of the horror genre for the first time since I started publishing my work. This story also flowed out of me like Savages, and I felt very strong about it. When I started editing and reworking it, I didn’t change much.

Insert red flag.

Then, when I thought it was ready, it got universally rejected. I know every parent thinks their baby is adorable, but even I could understand that this meant something was wrong with my creation. So, for the first time, I turned to an independent editor outside a publishing house.

I have worked with editors before (on all my published works), and I always use beta readers in my drafting process. Yet this is the first time I have interacted with the editor prior to the submission acceptance and outside the publishing process. Call it a new author experience for me. My authoring career is evolving, and I can hitch this on to the dreadful agent querying process.

My book clearly needed help, so I asked around and got recommendations for an independent editor. I sent her my raw, trembling, little baby, and she (and an associate) went through it before providing me an editorial letter of feedback. Standard process, as I understand it.

OUCH!

It is what I asked for. It is what I needed. But damn, it stung.

With my previous books and stories and my other editors, we have worked my pieces over very collaboratively. However, they have never ripped any apart or suggested severe rewrites. In short, I have been spoiled. I have been pushing my boulders up gentle hills and have just now encountered my first mountain.

Currently, I am in the “processing the feedback” stage. I have the editorial letter, and I am digesting the many ideas therein. Next, I will meet with the editor(s) to discuss and brainstorm. Then the fork in the road–what to do? I will need to decide whether to pursue the story, and if I do, I determine what changes to make to it.

Insert heavy sigh weighed down by how daunting this all seems. Didn’t I just finish this book?

My initial emotional reaction was, with so much feedback, was there was anything redemptive in my book? If the plot and the characters and the names and everything need to change, is the story even worth salvaging? Is it really only the idea that survives? Honestly, these insecure pangs still nibble at the back of my brain as I mull it over.

As I am processing the ideas and they are cooling, the sharp edges are blunting. The looming shadows are scaling down so they no longer blot out the sun and I can see over them. Critiques are gradually reshaping into possibilities. If I can remain pragmatic, I can use this arrangement as intended to improve and evolve my story, to level it up into something an agent will accept.

This is not my first critique and far from my most brutal. This is not new territory. However, I feel like I have been coasting for a while, sneaking by in a sweet spot that did not force me to confront my shortcomings.

As I type this, I know that is what I need to do and also what I will end up doing. My feelings have just not caught up yet. My emotions are wounded and tangled on any part that hurts. Based on rejection on so many other fronts, this just seems to deepen the wound. My brain seeks out the confirmation for the pain. As I work my way through it with this words, I see that what I feel isn’t even really about the book or the editorial feedback.

I had finally pulled myself out of a writing slump and dumped myself into a new story. This has knocked me out of that groove. This has me questioning my writing, my quality.

Unfounded, I know. This is part of it, I know. But feelings are feelings.

I need to remember that I do not always need to be accomplishing something. I can rewrite my novel at my leisure. There is no deadline. I can return to my new WIP whenever I want. It is not going anywhere. It is OK to take the time and take the breaks. It is better to get it right and make it better. I do not understand my own urgency, but I need to undo it.

Deep breath… Next step…

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies
Comments
  1. I’m sure that whole process was painful, but your book will be a better story in the end. Good luck with your rewrite when you do return to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What can writers do without editors! Btw, if you’re talking about the WIP I beta read, yes you tackle big themes that need careful consideration. But I find it hard to believe even names of characters have to change…

    Anyway, I thought you might find this latest podcast episode https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2022/03/07/self-doubt-and-writers-block/ by Joanna Penn very useful. Don’t mind the title (it doesn’t reveal the full story), you can also skip the industry news at the beginning and go straight to the interview, itself.

    Please take your time to process the feedback. And remember editors are human too, so feedback can be subjective.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] On Being Edited […]

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