Last month my writing group had an opportunity to meet a guest, a freelance editor (FE) with major street cred, at one of our bi-monthly meetings. It was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up and are indebted to our group leader for arranging this meeting. He (that’s one hint) agreed to attend our gathering and to review up to 20 pages of the MS of our choice. And wait, that’s not all, it was FREE, serio and this FE edited one of my favorite author’s books (second hint).
FE sent me his comments on my MS a couple of days ago. It was not fugly, but it weren’t pretty either. The first two paragraphs gave me a smile, a very satisfied one when I read “…enjoyed every page…had a lot of fun reading it. You’ve got a great character going here…tough and gutsy…as a reader I’m happy as a clam to spend many hours in her company…”
But wait, then came the next several paragraphs. It began with “But now I’ll switch to grumpy mode, “twenty pages are hardly enough to judge a novel by, but on the other hand agents and publishers tend to make harsh, snap judgments based on the opening of a novel…it’s a crucial 20 pages……Lili has undeniable qualities…but is she compelling enough?” And then if you were in the room with me, you would have seen my lower lip protrude further and further with each paragraph. I know, what a baby.
First, I was miffed at FE, and then I reread the comments for specifics: “…what makes this not-especially beautiful, fortyish, divorced, put upon mother, still libidinous, Latino housewife…unique, different?” Okay, he had a point there, there are thousands of us Latinas just like that, maybe millions. Valgame Dios, I don’t want to think about it.
And another point… “Is the story a series of things that happen, or is it launching us forward on a trajectory of something big? …if so, we need some foreshadowing.” Good point. “Two adjectives before a noun…the senses…” Hmmmh. I’ll spare you the other five comments, I don’t want to embarrass myself further.
Okay, FE, maybe you’re not so wrong.
I then e-mailed a partner in writing to look over the comments too. She agreed with some of the points. I reread her responses; yes, that was an interesting point. Same point FE made. I got to work and rewrote the first ten pages, tweaking and adding more information.
Tonight I took my comments and shared them with the writing group and two others shared their own with me. And guess what, they agreed with him and we all received the good, the bad, the fugly. Some more, some less. And that’s why we’re in a writing group, I reminded myself.
And I agreed with him too (okay, about 50% of what he said I needed to fix). A suggestion was made to sit with the comments for four days, then go back, and see if I want to rewrite some more. Like the cooling off period or “think about it period” when you buy a product. That made a lot of sense.
Said editor shall remain nameless, at this time. We can’t have a deluge of inquiries until our entire group receives their comments back. I know, selfish, but I claim it.
Luckily, I’m off to Palm Springs for the next three days and will not take the laptop or pages to scribble on. I’m celebrating another birthday that I’m totally blessed to have.
I know my reaction was because I let my ego be shaken up a bit, and that’s okay. Nothing is ever free, but it was a gift. Time to hitch up my big girl chonies and remember that it’s in the getting up, the dusting yourself off, that’s important, even if you take a four day ‘holiday’ to do so.