February 2, 2009


I just e-mailed my revised novel to my editor.

It took ten weeks to digest her five-page, single-spaced revision letter and tackle the changes. I felt like my manuscript went through Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and SlimFast as it shrunk from 315 bloated pages to 215 compact ones.

Here's how I handled the revision requests:

Day 1: Received five-page revision letter and 315-page manuscript covered with comments.
Day 1 (later): Decided editor was dead wrong. About everything.
Day 2: Re-read revision letter and admitted editor made a couple good points.
Day 3: Re-read letter AND manuscript. Thanked brilliant editor profusely for not letting my manuscript go into the world in such horrible shape.
Day 4: Decided editor was a saint and should have the wing of a library named after her!
Day 4 (later): Got to work.
Days 5, 6 and 7: Made all minor changes written on the manuscript pages.
Weeks 2 through 6: Pulled out the gardening shears for some serious snipping! While making major changes, listened to Edgar Meyer's Bach Unaccompanied Cello Suites approximately 3,947 times.
Weeks 7 and 8: Read through manuscript a couple times to make sure the large changes made sense and everything worked together.
Between weeks 8 and 9: Decided becoming a brain surgeon would be easier and less stressful.
Weeks nine and ten: Went over every single word to make sure it belonged. Several didn't. The ones that remained needed to pull their weight.
End of week ten: Attached manuscript, photo, dedication, acknowledgements, flap copy and a promotional plan to an e-mail for beloved editor and uber-agent. Hit send.
End of week ten (later): Breathed.

What now? Go to Disney? Nah, too expensive. Dive into the next novel? Nope, brain's depleted. Sleep for a week? Hmmm. Pay my bills and get reacquainted with the washing machine? Definitely!

I'm going to do what every neurotic writer does after she sends out one novel and before she begins the next -- I'm going to obsess about whether my editor will like the changes I made, spend time with friends, take walks, see a movie or two, re-introduce myself to my children and husband, cook something that takes longer than five minutes to prepare, kayak, play Scrabble with hubby and read, read, READ!

Before long, some mysterious force will pull me back to the page and I'll dip into my internal well and begin the process all over again. With joy!


Obsessedwithlife said...


Wild About Words said...

Thanks, Rachel!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh Bach! Often a companion to me in the studio. Well I knew that as a creative writer you had to have some insanity, now you've confirmed it. The editing process sounds a lot like sculpting, yea sculpting words into a novel. It was fun and educational to read about the process. It's fascinating to someone coming from the visual arts. Congratulations! Can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Wild About Words said...

Thanks, Paul. Just read you're blog. Sounds like you're busy, busy, busy. And cold!

Danette Haworth said...

You've summed it up so perfectly!

After all that time in a novel, it feels like reemergence.

Good work and enjoy your break!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Donna! I can't wait to read it.

Dan R. said...


Congratulations on getting it done. Now your next book can be the story of a tween-age girl who lives with her author/mother. They co-wrote a murder mystery and now must meet the deadline for submitting the revisions to their agent -- the deadline just happens to coincide with the exact day of the year when the murder was committed in the book. The mother is superstitious. Since she can't change the deadline for the revision, she wants to change the date of the murder; the daughter argues that is is bad luck to make the change. As it turns out, in the very early hours on the morning of the deadline, the phone rings, and a voice says . . .


Paul R. May said...

Oh, Donna... I can so relate to your passion and misery and joy and insanity. What a wonderful journey.

Congratulations on yet another major milestone in your career... Enjoy the wonderful!



Wild About Words said...

Danette, thanks so much. Can't wait to dive into your novel. I've set aside the following weekend for that.
Christina, thanks. Loved the letter you sent. You're so good with words. You should be a writer, you know.
Dan, your imagination is working overtime. Again. Have fun at the rodeo Saturday. Yeehaw!
Paul, did I mention how much I loved your last blog post? That photo was hilarious! Can't wait to see you and meet your gang next monday.
Cheers all!

Z-Kids said...

This was a great post! Thanks for sharing the heartaches and joys...