May 14, 2013

Posted by in Jade Melisande, On Writing | 1 Comment

Working with an Editor

I have had a lot of luck in my writing lately. Last year every story I submitted got accepted; this year, out of four submissions so far I have had two accepted, one rejected and one returned with a very nice note and critique from the editor along with a request for revisions.

This last one is a new animal for me. Most of the stories I have submitted have been accepted as-is, with only the occasional typo corrected or word choice changed. I was very flattered that the editor had taken the time to critique my story so thoroughly, and could see most of his points. It’s a story I loved right from the start, and literally wrote almost all-of-a-piece, in one sitting, letting it pour out of me. But it’s in a genre that I’ve never written before (fantasy erotica) and…well, yes, I wrote it all at once and may have overlooked some nuance of detail that he would like to be made clearer. So I was more than willing to attempt the revisions he requested. I wrote him back and said that yes, I’d take a look at his suggestions and looked forward to working with him.

And I did – at least at first.

But as the time drew nearer for me to actually start the revisions, it got harder and harder for me to even sit down and look at the story. It wasn’t that I didn’t think his points were still valid – they were.  It was that I simply froze up whenever I thought about making the revisions.

Or more specifically, when I thought about sending the revised story back to him.

As I said, I’ve had a lot of validation of my writing lately, both in my blog, Kink & Poly, as well as the erotica I have been writing for publication.  I’ve started to have some confidence in myself as a writer as well as a blogger, and in my ability to craft a story, not just in blogging about my real life. It doesn’t matter that the erotica, the fiction, is usually derived from my real life stories. It takes a lot of crafting and effort to turn an anecdote into a piece of prose, and I have been learning how to do so by leaps and bounds. But I’ve also had a few rejections and I have learned to accept those with equanimity too. I’ve learned that “Hey, rejection doesn’t kill me!” And, “Rejection of one of my stories doesn’t mean I suck!” Sometimes, it even makes me better.  So if this story had been outright rejected, yes, I would have been disappointed.  I love the story and want to see it in print. But if it had been rejected by this market, that wouldn’t have stopped me from trying again. I would have submitted it elsewhere. Besides loving it, I also believe in this story.

So what was this block I had about revising it?

I puzzled over that for awhile. I hemmed and hawed about it. I talked to my partners and my daughter about it.

“It’ll take too much time to revise it,” I said. “I don’t have time to do that and everything else.”

“There’s so many new calls out there, I should be working on one of those instead.”

“Short stories pay so little, is it worth my time to do a rewrite on this, rather than just send it to another market later?”

To which they all replied:

“The revisions aren’t that extensive, it won’t take that much time.”

“Are you really going to write something new, or will you end up not doing that either?”

“Why start brand new when you have a finished story you love, and that an editor obviously likes well enough to send you a very detailed critique and ask you to make a few changes?”

And the kicker: “It’ll be a fantastic learning opportunity for you to work with an editor.”

All of which are true statements, and all of which I had told myself over and over.

But deep inside, there was another reason I was hesitating, although it took me awhile to suss it out:

“What if I rewrite it and he rejects it anyway?”

That, then, was the crux of my resistance, my angst, and my fear. I’d spend time (and love, and energy) revising it, and I’d still get rejected. Yes, I’d learned rejection isn’t personal. But somehow, this, I felt, would be. It would be about me not being able to do something as requested. About me not being good enough.

The first time I heard myself think that I shuddered. That’s my old bugbear. I recognize the little pissant. I see his sharp little muzzle and his poisonous fangs peaking around the corner of my psyche, trying to decide the exact right moment to pounce on me in order to undermine my self-confidence the most. I heard him breathing down my neck, and I let him chase me around for almost three weeks.

What if, what if, what if? he chanted, breathing noxious fumes in my ear. Late one night, sitting up in bed, unable to write anything new and unable to work on the old story, I finally confronted him.

Yes, I said, what if??

What if I fail?

Then I write another story.

What if he rejects it?

Then I submit it elsewhere.

What if I’m not good enough

That’s when I hit him – WHACK! – square on the kisser. I had finally got the gumption up to belt him one.

Shut up, I told him. If the story isn’t good enough, then it’s not good enough. I can live with that. I have before. Now go away and leave me alone. I have a story to revise.

Cradling his bloody nose, the little motherfucker finally slunk away.

And I made the revisions. Not all of them, actually. I didn’t agree with the editor entirely, and I pointed out instances where his and my opinion differed. Hey, it’s just his opinion. I emailed him, explaining what changes I had made and where and why. If he comes back with reasons for further changes that make sense, I’ll consider them, because in our few email exchanges I have begun to feel that I can trust his judgement – a whole lot more than I can trust that little monster that hides in my head, anyway.

And if he rejects the story?  Well then, I’ll just keep my eyes and ears out for another market, and try again.

  1. Hey, this is old, but I like it…what happened then? Congrats for fighting with your devil, and winning.
    Actually, where can I read the story?

    Thank you

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