I am almost always an emotional person first. My initial reactions to things come from an emotional point rather than a logical one. I am also very logical, but that isn’t usually the basis for my reactions unless whatever situation is in play isn’t an emotional one for me. So, having my initial reaction to the first round of feedback I got from my editor be very emotional should have been expected. It still kinda wasn’t and, for a little bit, I felt a wave of not so great things.
Any project that a person puts a lot of time, energy, effort and personal emotion into is something that can be hard to get critical feedback on. I knew on an intellectual level that I was going to get criticism. I have never done anything like this before and I’ve stated that writing has never been one of the art forms that I claimed to be good at. I honestly didn’t believe that I was going to get feedback that was overstuffed with rainbows and praise and awesomeness with little to no criticism, but… I think on some kind of subconscious level I was like a little kid looking for praise from the adults in the room on that piece of art they were so proud to show off.
So when I get my email with the first round of feedback and suggested edits, I took it kind of hard, like a punch to the gut. My inner self-saboteur raised its ugly head and tried to tell me I was stupid to think I could pull this off, that I had proof that it was crap and I should just give up. This isn’t what my editor had said, just how I gut reacted to what he did say. I only had time, initially, to read over a summary overview of my editor’s finding and his opinions, some of which made it clear that, as is, he didn’t feel like a large portion of the book worked. He wasn’t harsh, but he absolutely was honest.
Because I didn’t have the time at that point to dig deeper into the details of his reasons why he felt the way he did, I spent about a day kind of stewing in the mess of those initial reactionary emotions before I could dedicate the time really needed to go through all of his notes. When I finally did, I was able to put aside the worst of the emotions and begin to think about it all logically. I KNEW I was going to have to work more on this even though it felt done. No author can put out a perfect book on their own. I’m sure as hell not capable of it on the one and only attempt at writing I’ve ever done. Logic dictates that there will need to be changes, maybe even to parts I’m emotionally invested in. And that is a GOOD thing.
Once I was able to really see his feedback, I was presented with some issues created in the originally story that I was incapable of seeing. A sort of not seeing the forest for the trees kind of thing, or knowing the story so intimately that my brain makes connections that it already knows are there that the reader isn’t privy to and can’t. He pointed out things that were issues for him that weren’t for me. These are things that are changeable and will make the story better after they are fixed. I was forced to do some hard looking at some of the foundations of my story and make a choice to either completely rewrite huge sections of the book or find a way to make what I had work, but maybe in a slightly different way. Which is a huge part of the point of having an editor in the first place.
One of the things that came out in this process is that, somehow and inadvertently, my choice in editor has brought with it a real life perspective into quite a few parts of my book. These are things I didn’t know about him when I chose him. I chose him on his experience and the tone of his own writing with the thought that he would be a very good fit for mine. I had no clue just how good that fit was actually going to be. Even if his first round of feedback was so hard to see at first glance, I’m more convinced than ever that I made the right choice.
I do have a lot of work ahead of me. I have a real life conversation scheduled with my editor later in the week to go over my own notes in response to his insights to see exactly where I go from here, but I feel about a million times better than when I first read his summary. Not all of his feedback was negative. There were parts he seems to have really liked, some of those just happened to be some of my own favorites and probably would have killed me if he had suggested they be cut. I’m back to feeling really good about this and that I CAN do it. I think I’ve figured out solutions to most of the issues he brought up and have thoughts, but not quite so clear, on the others. Once the logical side of my brain shut out the emotional, I was able to come up with a plan and a direction and that made a world of difference.
As he stated clearly in his initial summary (my emotional brain of course chose to ignore that point for a while), they were all his opinions and subjective, but that is the point. Getting those opinions, especially from someone that has never had eyes on this before, can be clarifying and is essential to the process. Of course I loved and adored what I had before, but love is often blind and there were things that I absolutely missed. Those fresh eyes caught them and I now have the chance to make this even better. I am excited to see where this goes.