Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finishing Touches

At what point is a revised manuscript ready to be sent out? For me it's the point shortly after three and a half months of sleepless nights spent hunched over a keyboard. The same three and a half months I've also spent working a full-time job with terrible hours, and suffering through the stress joys which go along with going back to school. In those three and a half months I've completely reworked Zhukov.

Secret-sharing time folks. When I first agreed to do a revision, I was terrified. My mind went absolutely nuts. The request came on the tail end of other responses to material I'd sent out around the same time. While quite a few were positive, most of the responses I'd gotten up until that moment were rejections. As a writer, I am prepared for and ready to accept rejection. As a twenty-two-year-old female, that acception comes with it's own pint of Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream.

I read the email at least half a dozen times start to finish before I believed it. I'd heard of revisions, but what did they entail? I scoured the internets for answers and reached out to all of the wonderful people I'd met at writing conferences. What I found, was one giddy congratulation after another with little accompanying words of wisdom and reassurance which felt more like a pat on the head than anything helpful.

Please, don't get me wrong! Of course I was thrilled! Who wouldn't squeal and bounce around the living room after finding a request for a revision and resubmit in their inbox? Heck, I do that for partials! ((Maybe, if you ask nicely, I'll share my 'omg what do you mean you want the full manuscript' song and dance)). When you stop bouncing, though, it all falls into prospective. Someone believes in you and your work enough to give you another chance. Sometimes, as in my situation, they are even go so far as to specifically tell you what worked, what didn't, and what they want to see happen instead.

You're probably thinking "Psh, that sounds awesome! Why were you terrified?"

Because, grasshopper, with twenty plus pages of editorial notes in your hands and an 82,000-word manuscript on your desktop THE PRESSURE IS ON. Something you've poured your soul into must be picked apart, reexamined, and put back together in a way which both you and the person you're working with can agree on.

You've been given a second chance. In a world of *insert generic rejection*'s, you've been given a second chance. Keep calm. Take your time. Don't blow it.

Three and a half months might seem like a long time to spend on a revision, but it was the time I needed. At first I thought I could turn it around in a month. I probably could have, but it wouldn't have been everything that the editor who requested the revision and I believed it could be. My manuscript is a thousand times stronger than it was before and I am finally ready to send it back with my head held high and the confidence that the odds of me throwing up from nervousness as my cursor lingers over the 'send' button are only one in five.

As a writer, I tell myself to be patient. As a twenty-two-year-old female, I tell myself that checking my inbox every five minutes is totally not excessive.

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