Monday was a momentous day for me. My first novel received an award and is up for another. Although I was very excited, I had to stop and reflect on everything that’s happened to my “book” since I started writing. I’ve been working on Oracle for five years now. To say it’s been a long, arduous process would be a gross understatement. The manuscript was originally 196,000 words and now sits complete at around 138,000.
The reason for the reduction in word count is editing. I’ve had numerous editors edit the work and I’ve worked diligently to make the needed changes to make it commercially viable. It wasn’t easy. My first editor provided feedback that I wasn't entirely willing to accept at first. It was hard to hear that my writing wasn’t perfect. I was angry. I was confused. I was disillusioned. Fortunately, I came to the realization that my ultimate goal was to sell copies of the book. Since that was the goal, I needed to be able to accept criticism. I’ve been through numerous revisions since the first editorial evaluation and I’ve developed thick skin regarding editorial comments. Sometimes the suggestions were difficult to hear and difficult to make, but I listened and made them. Not only did the changes make the book better, but the suggested changes made me think more deeply about the plot and characters. That thinking led to epiphanies in the storyline and I began to look for holes and inconsistencies on my own. I realized that, as a new author, I didn’t have all of the tools I needed to complete the work to industry standards.
I have those tools now. I’ve been shown the tools and how to use them by my editors. I took them and dedicated my free time to using them to make my book better and the results speak for themselves. I now have a manuscript that I’m proud of and industry professionals are taking note. When I started writing, I felt that I was a good writer. I’m glad that I humbled myself enough to see that I wasn’t, but my editors wanted to help me become a great writer. I don’t know if I am yet, but I know that I’ll do what’s needed to make sure I become the woman and author I see in my mind’s eye. If you find yourself possibly skipping editing due to the expense or fear of criticism, I know how you feel. But…..don’t skip this crucial step. It’s worth it in the end and you’ll soon see that you begin to look at your own “book” with an editor’s eyes. When you do, you’ll begin to catch your mistakes such as unnecessary filtering and point of view shifts. It will make your writing time more enjoyable and will make your skin a little tougher. And tough skin is something every author needs.
Lisa aka Frenchkilt