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Revision Hell, part two

I had to chuckle at Marie Harte's post. I've been in sort of a 'revision hell' myself as of late. When I first sold to TEB, I brought along several titles that had been previously published at the now defunct LoveStruck Books. TEB's lovely publisher agreed to accept these titles if I'd be willing to spice them up a bit--it seems TEB likes sex, and lots of it, in their books. "No problem!" I enthused, then buckled down for intense rewrites of five titles.

I did it, but it's not something I ever wanted to do again. Writing is hard enough, rewriting is just plain hell. I was assigned an editor with an eye for detail, and a whip that could be felt halfway across the country. I'll always be glad that I was--I trust her implicitly and think I've learned a lot from her. I know every torturous edit makes my stories stronger. This does not, however, make them any easier.

I survived writing, rewriting and editing those first five books. Somehow, I assumed I had everything figured out by the time my next few submissions were evaluated. Wrong! Just when I thought I had one thing figured out, another thing popped up.

Each time, I tried to learn from my mistakes. I stopped putting 'and' and 'then' in the same sentence. I stopped starting sentences with 'ing' phrases. I shot most of the adverbs that came into my sight. I stopped the traveling eyes and allowed the gazes to travel instead.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself, right about the time I submitted a new novel to my faithful editor. A few days later, I received a page long email of things I'd need to change before a contract could be issued. *sigh*

I sat on that email for three weeks. (It was pretty flat by then.) When I finally felt up to the task, it took a little over a week to make the necessary changes. I was rewarded with the email I do so love to see: While there are still some things to be worked out in editing, we'd like to offer you a contract.


Contract signed, edits in process. It all worked out in the end, the process sometimes just takes a little longer than I expected. If I hadn't trusted my editor so much, and know that her suggestions were for the best, I might not have stuck it out. There were a few times on the road out of revision hell I'd have liked to hop off the trolley car. But when it's over, and I look back and smile, I'm glad I was along for the ride.


Jude Mason said...

Hey Jamie girl. You know, this might sound nuts, but I bet Janice would tear hell out of your post. OMG, I can't believe I said that. LOL

Awesome blog post. Writing is a dream come true, as difficult as it is. Editing is sometimes harder, but it's what polishes the story. It's all work, but it's amazing too.


Jamie Hill said...

LOL Jude, don't get her started on my blogs and IM's, that would be a never ending job.

See, I didn't call Janice by name, but you outed her. LOL I'll blame you.


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hiya, Jamie,

Rewriting is _much harder_ than writing. I love first person POV. Claire hates it. What's a poor girl to do?!

My latest, Truce of Trust, began as a short story (7K) written in the first person present, with a M/M/F ending. Claire said she'd be interested, but only if I could put it into the 3rd person past, and change it to be M/F/M. Oh, yes, and expand it to at least 15K.

Well, it was quite a challenge, but a most interesting learning experience. I had changed the characters' names, the setting, and much of the plot by the time I was done. It really was a different story - same initial premise, but totally different outcomes.

I find my writing has a lot of inertia. Once I've finished something, it really resists significant changes. I'm getting better at this, though. Practice makes perfect!


Jamie Hill said...

LOL Lisabet. That Claire is a slave driver, isn't she? *G*

I had to stop and think about the difference between m/m/f and m/f/m...OMG, I guess there is one. The things we do for our craft!

Thanks for stopping by!