On Sunday, I sent the revised manuscript of UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO off to my editor for her review. What I had hoped to be a two week process quickly expanded into a six week marathon as issues with continuity and decisions over what to eliminate and what to retain plagued me like never before. The longer the process became, the closer I got to the manuscript, and soon I was not able to see the proverbial forest between the trees. I had lost all sense of perspective.
I can’t remember the revision process for SOMETHING MISSING ever being this hard.
When I finally sent the document along to Melissa, it was time to take a step back and allow someone with a fresh pair of eyes to take a peek.
Still, I worry.
And I like Melissa a lot. In fact, as we negotiated the sale of SOMETHING MISSING, I fought to retain her as my editor even though she had been transferred to another division of Doubleday. It’s not that I’m concerned about what she will think or what she might suggest. I have great faith in her skill and ability as an editor. We work well together, and she is flexible in terms of her suggestions.
She adheres to James Thurber’s memo on editing from the New Yorker in 1959:
Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, "How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?" and avoid "How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?"
Instead, I fear that I am letting my book go, allowing it to once again spread its wings and fly off into the wider world. And like a parent, I worry that I have not yet done enough to ensure its success.
Have I tightened up the plot enough to keep the action moving?
Are my characters jumping off the page?
Did I make any glaring omissions?
Is Milo’s story just plain good enough?
Now comes the worst part. I sit and I wait.