And there it suddenly was – the report from the editor that I’ve spent the past few weeks waiting for, anticipating, been excited about and shit scared too. I’m not going to beat around the bush, or as we say in Sweden “saunter like a cat around a plate of hot porridge” (I know, right? What the fuck?), so here it is – it was great. When it popped into my inbox, I immediately grabbed my packet of cigarettes and headed out on the balcony, and read it on my phone. Just the first few lines made me burst into tears and yesterday evening I spent just focusing and celebrating the great things they said.
Now, of course, their job is to find talented authors who write books they can market and sell, not to shower this aspiring Joan-Rivers-meets-Toni-Morrison wannabe with compliments, so although last night I chose to just savour the moment and those lovely lines, there is a lot to be done by way of ironing out some inconsistencies, developing some scenes more and give some of my characters a bit of TLC, and execute others.
While I am still going to keep on writing and get through the first draft before I start going back over it, some things they came back with I can adjust now:
- I need to show Alice’s warmth and wit more.
- Her friendship with John happens too quickly and I need to lay the foundations more carefully.
- Karen overstepping boundaries needs explaining.
- Too many names and characters from the start – hard to keep up with.
- Cut back on the abverbs.
…..and then some cosmetics. What I’m so thrilled about is that I agree with all they’ve said. I was so scared they’d come back and say the whole idea stinks and I should go back to working in an office, or that my scenes aren’t believable, or that my dialogues aren’t natural – thank God, all those are things they have praised. The things to develop and work on are really just things I need to flesh out and soften. And, thank heavens, it didn’t fill me with crippling self doubt. Instead I feel incredibly positive, motivated and charged up, and I already have ideas bouncing around in my head.
Because they are happy with the story line, the plot and the arcs, making these changes shouldn’t be too much of a headache. They haven’t asked for fundamental changes, which means I don’t have to go back and scrap chapter after chapter. Sure, there’ll be sections I have to remove, but we’re talking paragraphs here. Sometimes not even that, just sentences.
Wednesdays always used to be my least favourite day. Even now, when I get to do what I love for a living, I’m not a huge fan, but today, with this bad cold still lingering and a grey and dreary morning outside my window, I am happier than I can even begin to describe. Or perhaps ‘relief’ is more accurate. As much as I have come to love this story I just have to tell and all the people in it, I was absolutely terrified they’d come back and tell me none of it would work, so this was the best thing that could happen. I thought that AT BEST they’d say parts of it was OK but then rip apart the rest, but instead I’m sitting here with a critique that is better than I ever dared wish for.
So. As my little anchors and visualisation would have it – the joy at good feedback from the very people who matter – boundless joy is fluttering around in my chest like hundreds of butterflies, only it’s not a visualisation right now. I’m in that very moment. I’m not focusing on how I will feel when the news is good or hold the finished first draft in my hands. I’m in that moment when I’ve been told I have talent, that my “premise is pertinent and important”, that John is fascinating, that this is an “extremely promising start” and that I am “most certainly not wasting [my] time”.
SLAM DUNK!!!!!!!!!!!!! …..although, of course, the REAL hard work is still ahead of me.