Friday, December 3, 2010

This Is What Scares Me

I had a power talk with my agent yesterday, and she has a few more revisions that she wants me to make before we go back on submission. It's not a problem at all because we brainstormed some pretty awesome ideas and I'm looking forward to seeing how it improves the book. They were epiphany types ideas that make you hit your head with your palm and say "duh! Why didn't we think of this sooner?"

That's not what scares me.

What scares me is all the times that I've finished my edits and think my book is ready.

And then it's not.

I have done a lot of revisions, many of them after others have read my book. Betas, agents I first queried, my agent, even editors, will come back with comments. Usually these comments are kick ass and make my book better.

That's what scares me.

The idea that I keep thinking my book is strong and then realizing that there are ways to make it better. Often ways to make it a lot better.

It's scary.

Because in between these edits, I've put my book out there thinking it's the best that it can be. I've sent it to agents in the beginning and editors after I signed with my agent. I've sent out what I thought was my strongest draft.

And then I realize it's not.

So as I'm making revisions again, I must admit that I'm scared. I will make these revisions with the thought that these are the ones that make my book the best it can be, the strongest draft I can send out there, but in my mind, I'll wonder if it really is.

How do you ever know that your book is ready?

Do you ever know?

Does this ever scare you too?

Also, if you want an honest look at the submission process (one full of the fears and ups and downs), Natalie Whipple wrote a great post here.


Kristan said...

Honestly? No, it doesn't scare me, because there are a ton of books out there that could be better. Probably every single book, even the classics that we study in school. You think those authors wouldn't want to tweak here and there? Of course they do. We all do. But at some point we have to stop, we have to let go. Sometimes that last 1% just doesn't matter that much. (I'm being realistic here, not lazy!)

Don't be scared. As with ANY career, this is a process of leaning and growing and improving. So the only thing to be scared of, really, is NOT feeling like you're discovering new and better ideas.

Amy Lukavics said...

I know exactly how you feel. I honestly never know if my stuff is good or not. The latest round of revisions I did was pretty good but I was still expecting pages and pages of more notes. And there were only like two paragraphs this time.

However, on different rounds on the book before this, I'd think 'It's perfect!' Then the revision notes would be epic as hell.

Sigh...I've totally just given in to rolling with the punches, lol!!

Jessica Bell said...

What scares me most about revising the same thing over and over again is that after spending so long with my characters I won't feel enough for them anymore to make the revisions shine like they desreve.

Do you ever feel like that? Like you are almost numb to your characters' emotions and can't write about them properly?

Melanie said...

I don't know if scared would be the adjective I'd use for myself. Insecure. Unsure. Self-doubt would probably be more like it if I had to do that many revisions after feeling like it's finally...done. However, as long as you keep looking at the book after the revisions are done and, it's soooooo much better than it's a great thing, right? I mean, I would be more on the scared side if I made those revisions and then thought to myself, wait a minute. This is no longer my story. In other words, if the changes were changing the entire story or overall feel then I'd be a bit scared that I have a book that is no longer mine. Does that make sense?

Melissa Sarno said...

It doesn't scare me, exactly, but but it does concern me. I have a manuscript out right now with some agents and just reading this post made me think, heh, maybe it's not good enough because someone could read it right now and tell me to make it better. But I do feel like every person has an opinion. So the more people you give it to, the more you're going to get feedback. Heck, the thing could be published and a cranky reader could write you and tell you 'you should have done 'this' instead. So it doesn't scare me but it does make me go 'hmmm...'

Kendra S-L said...

Really grateful to you, Rachele, for sharing the inner workings and inner thoughts of an author going through this process. One thought that strikes me is that our educational system has often led us to believe that the process of revision is only a 1-2 step process. Rarely do I allow my own students to revise their papers more than once for that higher grade. There just isn't time in the semester, the course doesn't allow or encourage revisiting the same piece over and over. The truth is that the process of editing (and on a more symbolic level, of self-edification) can take months if not years. As we grow and let things marinade, we figure out ways to make something more relevant, more refined.

Wishing you well with this next round!

Megan Grimit said...

There's always room for improvement, and its just impossible to make it perfect, so I think its a great thing that your book continues to improve. It means you're open to making it better, and there's nothing better than that. ;-) And I'm sure long after its published and on the shelves you'll think of other things that could have strengthened the story. Call it the curse of being an author. Ha ha.

NiaRaie said...

Yes it does scare me sometimes. But then I try to remember that a book could continue to be revised forever (literally). I just hope to whip my book into the best shape that it can be with the level of talent that I have at that time.