Now that I've covered the changes since I last updated, I'll chat about what I came back to the blog for: to talk about editing. Specifically, to talk about editing after the huge success of contracting with an agent. Because editing on your own, just you in your little writer bubble, is very different from editing based on the suggestions of professionals in the industry.
Before I start, though, I want to make clear a couple of things. One is that querying can be really brutal and demoralizing. Day after day of checking the email inbox only to find form rejections. Even when the form is kind, even when the agent spells your name right, a rejection is a tough thing to take. So I'm very grateful to be on "the other side", so to speak. Second, the edits that my agent and the agency editor have suggested are only going to make Blessed Among Women stronger, and they are by no means big, overhaul-type edits. It's not like I have to change the whole structure or something. I've been tasked with adding a few critical scenes and expanding some existing moments. They're all very natural additions that fall well in line with the novel's tone and narrative. So, piece of cake, right?
Here's the baffling thing about success at any level in this process: it is daunting. I am daunted. Because I'm sitting down to write the new material and I'm second-guessing myself big time. I think there are several reasons for this, the most important of which is this:
It took me six months to get Blessed Among Women to the point where agents even wanted to look at it, and then another three before anyone wanted to represent it. That's not actually very long in the grand scheme of things, but in that time I treated the novel like a full-time job. I wrote, edited, educated myself, wrote, edited...hours upon hours of work. And now I've got a couple of weeks to add segments that live up to the nine-months-of-constant-work level. It's intimidating. I'll start writing and get a few sentences in and think, this isn't the same. Why isn't this the same? And then I wander off to do my nails, because I know that's something I can do really well.
Unfortunately, beautifully sculpted nails will do nothing to further my writing career. Neither will being afraid of producing something new, even if it's not as polished as what I already have. And in the end I always wander back to the computer like a good little writer. But those moments will continue to pop up where I convince myself that I've lost the magic touch, and my agent will figure out that I'm a hack, and it will all be over. I will still worry that it will all be snatched away from me in the night.
As far as I can tell, the solution is the same as it's always been: get back to work. So I'll push those little nagging voices to the back of my head and try to listen to the characters again.