Saturday, May 15, 2010

perfect timing?

One of my goals for the year has to do with how I react to getting feedback on my book.  In fact, the actual words I  used were, "I'd like to remain thoughtful, objective, gracious, and rational about anything that happens with this book."

It's a lot to ask of myself, really, and I was completely nervous about a month ago as I discussed revisions with Sarah.  Anything that happens.  I asked myself, "Can I remain objective and rational and even GRACIOUS if she tells me something that sounds impossible?"  I was so nervous about getting her notes that I didn't even know if I wanted to get notes at all.  Maybe we could just stop here?  I could be like, YAY my book is pretty and unique and someone believes in it, the end.  Every step forward has so many possibilities, about half of them stinking suspiciously like failure.

But of course I'm not going to let a little panic (I mean apprehension, obviously) get in the way of moving forward as a writer, right?  So I read through my manuscript again during the time I knew Sarah was reading it, trying to see it from her perspective, trying to imagine what she was seeing.

And then I got her notes in my inbox (incredibly detailed, amazing notes, btw!).  And then my computer died.  On the same day.  Perfect timing.

At first I thought this was a catastrophe.  I mean, I printed out her notes from my work computer and took them home overnight--I hoped at this  point that my computer might have a little update issue that might take twenty or thirty minutes to fix.  I read through the notes, getting more and more inspired and anxious to dig in.  But it turned out my hard drive had failed, and although I had everything backed up (on paper and electronically), I didn't have my computer for the next three weeks. 

Objective and rational and gracious.  Right.  I was freaking out.

Something about me--even though I had been perfectly patient about doing these revisions earlier, and in fact had been fantasizing about never doing them at all, once I had my notes and my ideas and had spent some time on the phone with Sarah...I was ready.  And when I'm ready to do something, let me tell you, it gets done.  I wanted to work straight through the next week, nailing each change.  But the little table where my laptop sits was empty and forlorn.  Instead I had a monster binder, stacks of paper, two colors of sticky notes, and a birthday journal, mostly neglected in favor of the keyboard, which translates my thoughts into words so much faster, so much more freely...

Thoughtful.  Objective.  Rational.  Gracious.

I took the cap off my pen.  I started making notes.  Two weeks later, my mom lent me her laptop so I could translate all my scribblings into the actual manuscript, and now today I'm reading through again.  And again.

Someday soon I'll send it back, my fingers crossed, my goal in mind.  Maybe it will come back with a new set of notes.  Maybe it will go on to the next stage.  This timing wasn't what I had hoped for, but revising slowly, gnawing my pen cap between my teeth like the days before I had a computer (yes, I do that)--maybe it was better for me after all.  Maybe it really was perfect timing.

Just a little update.  I hope to be done for real sometime this week.  And then...who knows?  My lappy is back with its shiny new hard drive, and I know that once I hit send I'm going to be back to focusing on that goal of mine.  And back to first drafting the next one!  :)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find you remarkable.
ily

Kristan said...

I love your attitude about agent/editor notes. I hope I can be as positive if/when I get some. (AAAHHH I want to get some! But anyway...)

With your talent & maturity, I am sure you will triumph. :)

elissa said...

M, thanks for remarking! :) I love seeing you in my comments!

and Kristan, thanks! I had a few weeks to have my tantrums offline, lol... :D

Clarence Mitchell said...

Thank you for sharing this! You are motivating me to get back to my book... whew... ok time to dig in.

amy said...

"remain thoughtful, objective, gracious, and rational about anything that happens with this book."

I like this! But I admit, I find it easier said than done. I've gotten pretty good at *faking* grace and objectivity, but no matter how rational I make myself seem, it still takes me forever and ever to *actually* understand and implement revisions.

elissa said...

GO CLARENCE GO! (and welcome to my blog! I haven't seen you comment before, I don't think!) :D

amy, I think it might honestly be a case of "fake it till you make it" lol. I mean, it helps that I haven't yet encountered anything I wasn't prepared for, you know? Like, nobody has randomly told me to cut 13k or something. And I also think it's perfectly normal for it to take some time to process revision notes. If Sarah had tried to give me notes back in January, it would have been much more difficult to get there, but having the time it was with SMP to work on a new project and get some distance from TDBB really helped. :)

Corinne Bowen said...

I'm in the same stage of the writing process (except with my first novel) and I know the feeling of wanting to dive in! Sounds like you found a great match if your agent's suggestions resonated so well with you:) Looking forward to reading more about your journey with this book!

Lisa said...

It sounds like you handled that remarkably well!

The revision process has been a learning process for me. If I find an agent, I know the real revisions will begin. I'm going to remember your words...

elissa said...

Corinne, yes! I feel like (so far, anyway!) the notes I've had from Sarah have been spot on--it's so much easier to make changes when you can trust that the changes are making it a better book! Good luck with your own process! I'll be keeping an eye out for your book, too.

And Lisa, I'm so glad to read of your progress with writing, too! You're such a wonderful blogger; I can't help but be certain that your other writing will be awesome as well. Revising is actually my favorite part, I think--mainly I'm just relieved as can be once I finally get the first draft down.

Kate Hart said...

I always think I'm going to dive right in, but it usually takes a few weeks for serious revision notes to sink in for me. Your post makes me realize that if I get an agent offer, I should make sure s/he is cool with that. Good post!

Sarahlynn said...

I love reading about your revision process and I can't wait to read your book!

elissa said...

Kate, thanks! I mean, I think most of the time agents realize that sweeping changes are not going to make sense overnight. In fact, when I first finished, Sarah's response was, that was really fast...maybe you should take a little more time to get it perfect? But all in all, I had been contemplating changes and discussing them with her for months. It's just that once I'm ready, WATCH OUT. :)

sarahlynn, I SO hope I have a book someday for you to read! and likewise, I'm excited to read yours!

manlaisu nib rathkom said...

thnxxx~~~