I received an email from my publisher, WordFire Press, on October 25th asking for the “current final manuscript” of Griffin’s Feather. They’d assigned an editor to the project, and were ready to move forward with the publishing process.
Instead of being elated or excited, my main emotion was nerves. Loads of nerves. So serious, I grabbed my office trash can in case I needed to puke. Even though the book had already been acquired and signed for, I had the following thoughts rampaging through my psyche:
What if it’s not good enough?
What if the editor hates?
What if the editor hates me?
Do I have time for another edit pass on my own?
What will the world think of me when this worthless drivel hits the stands?
What if someone thinks I faked my way through writing the novel?
What will my friends think?
What will my family think?
… Yeah… A serious amount of impostor syndrome hit me full in the face.
It shouldn’t have, but that was my reaction.
I stepped away from the keyboard for about half an hour to get a little distance and let me process things. I’ve been through the editorial process before, but only on shorter works and non-fiction. I’ve been in a critique group for over a decade. I know how to “take a hit” and keep on truckin’. I know how to receive feedback and input and improve my work. I know all of this. I rarely feel this. Thus the pounce by the impostor demon. He snuck up on me, rolled a natural 20, and stabbed me square between the shoulder blades.
Only by getting some distance did my nerves calm down enough for me to send off the manuscript to WordFire.
The nervousness came and went and mostly settled down. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with the vision of my editor standing over me with a bloody quill in his hand stabbing down at me. I’m not saying my editor is a bloody-splattered, quill-wielding serial killer (how’s that for a character idea?), but that’s the impression my subconscious built for me.
Until yesterday, I’d actually had no interaction with my editor. He lives in the Seattle area. I’m in Colorado. It’s kind of hard to sit down over coffee to talk about the novel. Sure, there’s Skype, but it’s a bit early for that to fire up for us.
Things changed for me and my weak, splintered, emotional brain when I received an email from the editor yesterday. He’s been in the biz since 1976. That tells me he’s experienced and manged to stick through things for decades. A total asshole or novel-shredder rarely lasts that long. At least, that’s what I’m reading into it.
He also told me that he’s written quite a few short stories and has a novel under consideration at a Big Five publisher. This tells me that he gets writers. That helped put me at ease.
Here’s a quote from his email, “I always keep in mind that this is your story, and it’s your name on the cover.” You have absolutely no idea how great this made me feel. I’ve had an “editor” (loosely using that term) in a critique group before, and that “editor” made demands, requirements, and “must do actions” against me and my novel. Perhaps that’s where my nerves come from because I had a critique partner put on the “editor hat” and tear me up rather than work with me to help the words become better.
He closed out his email to me with, “I’m looking forward to hearing back and to working with you to make “Griffin’s Feather” shine (and sell).” The phrase “working with you” (my emphasis) damn near made me cry from the release of emotional pressure I had built up for myself. Know that I have a partner (and a well experienced one!) standing next to me to guide me through things makes me happy enough to almost try and do a back flip…. almost.
I know this has been a long and rambly affair of a blog post. I’m trying to come up with a pithy theme or a “you can do it!” message for those out there.
I guess I’ll close by saying there are people out there who on your side even when you don’t know it.
…. I’m also really looking forward to jumping into the nitty-gritty work and seeing what ideas my editor has for me to improve my work.