Friday, March 27, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XII

Part I Part II Part III Part IV
Part V Part VI Part VII Part VIII
Part IX Part X Part XI

I generally get three reader evaluations back from my publisher on every accepted manuscript. There's a patten with reader evals, one I can't explain, because as far as I know, the three readers are never the same people.

For some odd reason, every time, one eval hasn't been helpful. It's either too vague, or the commentary is way off in left field, or something else. But the other two tend to be good, pointing out both strengths and weaknesses and giving a direction to go on revisions.

With Spires, the evals were a bit different. As usual, one didn't really help. And the other two . . . conflicted on almost every single point.

One eval said to add more of this, while the other said to take out what I already had of the same thing.

One described something as a strength, while the other called the exact same thing a weakness.

And so on. I read through them over and over, knowing I had to turn in a revision within a few weeks, and having no clue where to go.

I asked my trusty critique group. They helped on several issues, but even they were split on several other things. They're usually my perfect place for advice, but in this case, they were already jaded by seeing the original manuscript; they couldn't give a real objective answer.

I decided I'd better ask yet another person, someone who hadn't yet seen the book at all. I begged and pleaded for my good friend Josi Kilpack to read it and tear it apart. If I'm the Grammar Nazi, Josi is the Big Picture Nazi. She'll catch a plot hole the size of a pin prick, won't let you get away with motivation issues, and can simply zero-in on what the problem is.

I told her the different directions I could go with the revisions and then sent her the file. So Josi read it. And then sent back a very long e-mail. As expected, she nailed several key points, finally giving me a place to go.

I spent weeks of long days reworking the book, adding here, taking away there, expanding this, clarifying that. Due to a variety of issues, my editor hadn't been able to read it yet, so I was on my own. Doing revisions without the guidance of my beloved editor was freakishly painful.

Not having a clear road map was so stressful that a day or two before the rewrite was due, when my visiting teacher came by, I about broke down in front of her. She could tell my sanity was hanging by a thread. She brought my family dinner that night so I could make my deadline. (Bless her!)

I finished the rewrite, turned it back in, and tried not to curl up in a ball and rock back and forth.

Angela finally read it and gave me her content edit. As always, it was on target and perfect. Unfortunately, it also conflicted with much of what I had just rewritten.

I needed to rewrite AGAIN, this time under a tighter time crunch, so I pulled long nights and went without showers.

At this point, I wanted to cause someone serious bodily harm, because if my editor been able to read the thing from the get-go, I wouldn't have gone through those first weeks of heinous revisions only to have more ahead the undid much of that first work. I could have gone through a week or so of mild ones based on her suggestions.

By the time I sent her the second rewrite, I had no idea if the story was even coherent anymore.
And I was so exhausted I almost didn't care anymore; I was just relieved to have made the deadline and still be standing.

Then I got a line edit back from some nameless contract editor.

Hoo-boy. I cared again. With a vengeance.

Today's tour stop:
Little Grumpy Angel
(Where the title starts with, "I Don't Believe David Archuleta is the Lord's American Idol . . .")

Today I've also been interviewed:
Scribbit, where I answered lots of questions about writing.
Kathi's Writing Nook


Rebecca Irvine said...

So sad to hear such a good book caused so much torment for the author! Can't wait to hear the ending.

Carolyn V. said...

Wow! It's amazing how much goes into a book.

I'm running over to Scribbit right now to see your interview! =)

Anonymous said...

Talk about cliff hangers...

An Ordinary Mom said...

You are NOT allowed to leave the story like this!

And I am curious, what advice did Angela and Josi give you?

Brooke said...

Can't wait to hear the rest! I got my cookbook and I LOVE IT! It is just so fun! Thank you so much again!

trublubyu said...

just stopping by to say congratulations on your latest book. i am reading great things about it all over blogdom. i will be picking it up soon!

wishing you continued success!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Gah! I can just imagine the agony of it!

Melanie Jacobson said...

Oooh...sounds like someone's going to get what-fer...can't wait!

Heatherlyn said...

That must be so frustrating! Bless your visiting teacher! Although, it sounds like you could have used meals brought in for a couple of weeks!

Chas Hathaway said...

This is such a cool series! I haven't published any books, but I have published some music. I think I might like to do blog a series like this of my music journey.

Thanks for the idea!

I really love reading these. I think it's cool that it is going on and on. It's like reading an online biography!

- Chas


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