When an editor calls

Oh goodness – I’m SO nervous.

At the beginning of the week I sent off the first 28,000 words of the rewrite of The Look to my editors (I currently have 2: Imogen and Rachel). Being the extremely helpful, available people they are, they promised to call me about them tomorrow, despite the fact that they’re busy working on a whole bunch of other stuff, too.

This rewrite is a REWRITE. The bit where they said ‘the story is totally there’ turned out to mean ‘but you need to change a few characters, refocus the main relationship, delete someone, enhance someone else and include a few scenes you skated over first time, because they’re important’.

I don’t disagree with any of this, and actually I enjoy the rewriting, but when I know that it’s being carefully checked over by two objective, experienced editors, I’m a mess. What if I’ve overdone it? What if I’ve lost some bits they liked? What if they meant me to make the changes while only rewriting 20%, not 70%? What if they’ve noticed that the manuscript is actually 10,000 words longer now than it was before? What if they …. preferred it before?

The trouble is, I like the new version. I’ve had more time to think about the main elements of the story, get to know the characters better. I think what I’ve done is more detailed and richer. But what if it comes across as simply slower, denser and duller? What if I have to rewrite the rewrite?

I can’t wait for the call, just so that I know where I stand.

Meanwhile, I’m soldiering on. We’ve agreed that my main character becomes interested in photography. I’ve taken an interest since I was 14 and I’m enjoying revisiting some of the great photographers who inspired me then. I’ve come up with what I think is a GENIUS idea for the main character’s creative epiphany (and I’ve realised that I think my books will always be about creative epiphanies, because that’s what I seem to do best) and I can tell you, in an exclusive preview (not including the fact that I just posted it on Facebook), that THIS PHOTOGRAPH helped:

It’s of Princess Ira von Furstenberg, and it was taken by Richard Avedon in 1955. Isn’t it gorgeous? Weird, but gorgeous. I’m liking that.

So if Rachel and Imogen don’t like what I’ve done with the first 28,000 words, at least I can console myself with the thought that I’ve rediscovered some wonderful photography. Sometimes you have to take your consolation where you can.


4 thoughts on “When an editor calls

  1. This is exactly the turmoil I get into – so I started keeping lots of unrevised copies as I go (changing the file title) so I can always go back and get something I ditched. I love the idea of photography being in your new book. Expected publishing date??

  2. Hi Eleanor. I do the same thing. I’m on version 7 of the rewrite (and the original was version 16 or something …). However, I always find I want to do it differently, even if I need to end up in the same place. Ho hum. Expected publishing date is March next year. At the rate I’m going, we’ll need every minute. xxx

  3. I’m in the midst of a rewrite of a rewrite for my agent (oh, I love saying ‘my agent’) and before that I rewrote many times. I feel your fear. What if my agent hates it? What if it’s a pile of ****?

    God knows what I’ll be like if I ever get a publishing deal!

    Luckily, I love rewriting because despite all the agony and doubts, the book is usually stronger.

    That is an amazing photograph. Beautiful.

    Good luck with the editorial call! xx

  4. OH THANK YOU, as always, Justine. I needed that! They haven’t called yet. Still battling on, regardless … (And yes – it is as lovely to say ‘my editors’ as it is to say ‘my agent’, and worth all the pain, many times over.) xxx

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