Yesterday, I was digging through a pile of papers looking for a misplaced psychology exam when I came across a piece of paper that literally made my blood halt in my veins. It was a page from the first round of rewrites my editor sent me of Deadly Design. In reality, I think she had more ink on the page than I did.
It reminded me of the roller coaster that comes with getting published. For many writers, I think the magic moment comes when a publisher says, “Yes, we want your book.” We’re elated that someone has faith in us. We made it! Yes! That fragile author’s esteem has finally been validated. We’re finally feeling good about the hours (and years) we’ve spent developing our craft. Then after weeks or maybe even months, your editor, this mysterious Gandalf of the publishing world, contacts you with your first round of rewrites.
Little do we realize that this first round is kind of like a ’round’ in the ring with the heavy weight campion of the world. It’s rough. That validation that I mentioned earlier, is sucker punched right out of you. And there’s that voice that can’t help but say, “If there’s this much wrong with it, why did they want it?”
But then you have to make a decision. Do you buckle down and get to work, or do you cry? I imagine that many writers end up doing both.
But this is it! This is the dream! And for the first time, someone is helping you achieve your goal of not just getting published, but of publishing something that can be better than you ever imagined.
It seems like a long time since I got that first package on my doorstep. Little did I know how many more would be over-nighted to me because when it comes to rewrites, there’s always a deadline. But then one day, there were two boxes on the front porch that I had not been expecting: two boxes of ARC copies.
I’d made the choice to write. That’s what we do. Writers write. It doesn’t matter if someone is praising us or giving us painful but needed criticism — we write. So take heart.
The only thing more fragile than a house of cards or the petals of an orchid is a writer’s ego. But there is nothing more beautiful or valuable. After all, we are the painters of the imagination. We are the creators of worlds, of heroes and villains. All we have to do is decide to write. (And maybe occasionally, to cry.) But mostly, write!