Trusting the Process

Hey gang! What a wild/fun week I had last week. We went to the Mouse House in Orlando, got up close and personal with Harry Potter, and drank our share of the butterbeer (think sugary cream soda with a SUPER sugary cream topping ... yeah, it's that bad for you, and that awesome).

Enjoying a cold drink in the Hog's Head Tavern- No, that's not butterbeer. ;-)
Anyway, I'm back (physically at least) and ready to make the final push towards the publication of the second Moonsongs book. With a little luck, it'll be out in December. And I'm totally not bragging here, but I'm very excited for people to read it. I think the story is bigger, and in some ways better, than the first. 

Jenny (the mc) is really beginning to stretch her legs as a character. She gets pulled deeper into the supernatural world her tribal ancestors have fought against for so many generations, and learns that not all of the scary things out there want to eat you--some just want you dead. Plus, there are witches, both cool and evil. 

Basically, there's just a lot going on, and I think it'll be a fun ride for folks who enjoy True Blood-esque adventures. I've had a blast crafting it, that's for sure.

TRUSTING THE PROCESS

Photo credit to Lynn Kelley, WANA Commons 
But now it's time for the final polish. That means applying editorial feedback. Some of which is quite straightforward, and pretty painless. Change this word, rearrange that sentence, etc. But some of the changes aren't so easy to execute...

I always try to make sure my stories go into the 'editor' phase as polished as I can make them. That's for two reasons: 1) I don't want to purposefully make my editor take up drinking if they don't already. 2) It translates to less work for me on the other side.

What does sending it in as polished as possible mean for me? Typically 3 drafts pre-beta/critter work overs, and 1 to 2 more post beta/critter. And sometimes, if the beta/critter feedback results in major changes, it might go into another round of beta/critter--and more drafts follow. THEN it goes to the editor. 

Sounds like a lot right? IT IS! But I'm someone who likes to feel confident about something before moving onto the next stage. For me to feel confident in a piece of writing, I need to hear from several different perspectives that I've essentially captured what I set out to do with a particular story. 

These Moonsongs stories are a bit of a different beast, because they're novelettes--which translates to 'longer than a short story, shorter than a novella'. So a big part of my objective is that the plots stay tight, and the pacing zips. I want them to be a movie-like experience. Something you can enjoy in 2-4 hours, and feel that you've been entertained when you finish. 

That's where the editor really pays off. 

Story # 2 has been through multiple critters. While none of them said it was perfect, the feedback was 99% great, and I addressed nearly every quibble the critters had in rewrites prior to sending it off to the editor. 

That's the point where you begin to think--no matter how many times you've been through this process and know better--"I've done it! This is a great story as is." You can't help it. You love your critters. You've read their work, and trust them implicitly. Furthermore, you're really beginning to love the story again. (Trust me, you hate the dang thing at several points during this cycle.) 

Trusting the process is oh so important at this juncture. When those edits come back, and you see the number of things you've missed--or just screwed up--in your 'great story' it feels like starting over in some ways. (But you're totally not!)

You might even be tempted to cross your arms and say, "Bah, readers already like it. Why should I chop out two pages of the opening scene for the sake of pacing?"

The answer is simple: Because you want the story to be everything you dreamt it COULD be. The only chance you have of doing that is making it as tight as possible. That means heeding your editor's advice, listening to your critter complaints, and doing 2 more drafts beyond the last draft you vowed you'd ever do. 

It can be disheartening. It can be fantastic. But it's all part of the process, and that you have to trust.

~EJW~

34 comments:

  1. I think too, when you've given a draft (story draft, not beer) all you can, you sleep better.

    It's a lot of work, but that's where the professionalism comes from.

    Welcome back!

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  2. Your simple answer is just how I feel.
    Welcome back! December? I just started your last book. I'm never going to catch up...

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    1. lol They're pretty short, Alex, so I think you'll catch up quickly. :-) On a similar note, I've vowed to catch up on your Cassa series before you release the third. I read the first 3 chapters of the second when you sent it to me--just because I couldn't put it down! Then I made myself quit so I didn't spoil the first.

      My wife and I really enjoy 'series' books, and I'm making yours my holiday reading. (I get a lot of reading done over Thanksgiving and Christmas typically.) From what I read, I think she'll enjoy them as well.

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  3. I'm jealous you went to the Harry Potter theme park!

    And editors do love it when authors send manuscripts as polished as possible. But I know what you mean about thinking your manuscript is just about there only to find there's still work to be done.

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  4. Fascinating post! I love reading the "behind the scenes" stuff. It's really fun for me. And the Moonsong stories are SO GOOD, EJ. Really, really, REALLY good. Love your writing. And jealous! Love the pic! My inlaws were in Harry Potter land (or whatever it's called) this past week. Perhaps you brushed shoulders with them! ;-)

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  5. Feedback is so important to the process. I'm always amazed at what gets by me. What do you mean I used the word "more" four times in two sentences!!? But if you are lucky enough to get some readers you trust, who know how to be honest without being hurtful, it's a great thing.

    And I was at Harry Potter in Orlando maybe a year and a half ago. SO MUCH FUN. Love the butterbeer. :D

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  6. "I don't want to purposefully make my editor take up drinking if they don't already."

    Bwahahahahaha xD
    I so love your sense of humor.

    Agree, EJ. Gotta trust the process. ;)

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  7. So glad you had such a great time, EJ! I'd love to have some of that butterbeer.

    Can't wait to read the next Moonsongs story. :)

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  8. Glad you're back and looks like you had a great week, love the pic! Sending stuff to my editor triggers all kinds of emotions, mainly of utter fear that she's going to think it's utter crapola and two, unabridged relief to not look at the damn thing for a few weeks. (:

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  9. Harry Potter? That sounds like a lot of fun and a time to decompress! Envy you that. Here's to more beer and less stress.

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  10. I think I needed to read this. I'm not published yet, and lately I've gotten to that low point where I can't help but wonder if all the polishing is just wasted time, so I admit, I've rushed submission of this last novel. Thanks for the reminder and setting a great example.
    Oh, and hello from IWSG. :)

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  11. Thanks EJ! I love learning through your process~
    I'm still in the trying to find the right story to go with.
    The one that keeps tugging on me like a hungry child-could be
    dangerous. It could affect another goal I want to accomplish.


    I love the photo of you! Oh, gosh that sounds heavenly to me!
    I have a huge crush on Cream Soda, lol

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  12. Sounds like you had a ball with Mr Potter! I hate editing and revising but as you say it's totally necessary. You seem to have a balanced view of the process... Good luck and I will follow you with interest.

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  13. You sound confident... and knowledgeable... and comfortable in your writing space, allowing your gut instinct to lead the way...

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  14. You sure are a hard working writer. I admire how you want to put your best work out there.

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  15. Great blog header up there!! Hopping over from IWSG. Butterbeer, Potterland, sounds like a dream. :)

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  16. It doesn't matter how many times I've edited something - my editor finds more. But that's okay. Better her than a reader!

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  17. I can always find more to improve in my MS. It is a long process and non-writers have NO idea of the work involved. It sounds like your process is solid.

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  18. I wandered over from the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

    I've heard so much good stuff about Harry Potter world. Can't wait to go! And jealous of the Butter Beer.

    Thanks for sharing your editing process. It is a lot of work, but worth it. Oddly enough, I actually enjoy the editing process better than the initial creation!

    Nice to "meet" you,
    Jen

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  19. Great post! I always love the idea of a story getting better than it already is, but the idea of writing another draft or two. . . not so much. ;) But you're so right, you just have to put your trust into it!

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  20. Hey, E.J.

    SOOOOOO TRUE. I've lost count on how many times I've gone through my ms'.... And now another one on my first novel. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! Three years of re-writes and it's still now perfect. Oh, well, as you say it's all part of the process.

    But WE TRULY learn so much from each. My writing has shifted to so many different genres now and each one seems to have a life of its own. All seem to be popular with my ctitters and blogger buddies. SOON.... Oh, please, soon, there will be a publication in my future. I am hoping by the end of this years something breaks... an not my heart or spirit... Yeah ... like that will happen.... now with our wonderful community to keep me going.

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  21. I've always wondered if it were possible to send something to an editor and be told it is exactly right just as it is. Shouldn't it be possible? Theoretically?

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  22. Congrats on the final polish. I'm in (hopefully) final polish with my mg.

    And Oh, how I want to go to Hogsmeade one day! Hopefully in the next couple years my family and I will go!

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  23. The editing is never done, it seems. Even if it went to 5 different editors, it'd come back with different comments. But your ms will just get stronger and stronger each time. So yeah, you just have to trust the process.

    I want to go to Hogsmeade. Still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts, too:)

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  24. I'm gonna print this, pin it behind my computer, under my chair and on the ceiling. So when I'm ready to toss the computer out, gasping for air, staring off into space aimlessly, I'll be reminded that there is a reason behind the madness. Good luck and congrats on another great story!

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  25. Alas, you're right. We do have to trust the process. I love how a character develops the more we write about him or her.

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  26. jealous of the harry potter and your great moods of the editing world...awesomeness

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  27. We enjoyed the whole HP experience over the summer. My boys loved the Butterbeer! And now the 6 yo sleeps with his very own Fluffy.

    Good luck editing Jenny's story!

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    1. The Fluffy dolls were SOOO cool VT! Took a lot of restraint for me not bring back Buckbeak. :-D

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  28. I'm jealous you got to experience HP world. Thanks for sharing the fun photo! Sometimes it's hard to trust the process, but you're right, it works out in the end. Have a great rest of the weekend!

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  29. I am so jealous that you went to HP World! I want to go! It looks and sounds like such fun. Glad you had a good time. I am in the process of editing right now, too. Hope your editing is going well. It is nice to see the benefits of editing and making our writing stronger. Good luck!

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  30. Wow, another great post about a tough subject. Trusting in the process? She asks with her knees knocking audibly against the computer desk. I've have four rounds of critters. The first ones loved and hated. Second round loved and didn't understand-wanted major deletions. Third round liked, gave good feedback and didn't want any deletions--one of them said it was 'fine' which scares me to hell and my last beta works seven days a week and will get back to me in 2025. Good luck with the second Moon Song I know it will be a success. Unfortunately, I don't like anything to do with witches so I might have to just support you by saying I know you're a wonderful writer.

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  31. Sounds wonderful and horrible, all at the same time, and I can't wait to be at that place. Good luck with #2! It's fantastic that you're so excited about it, which will make it great.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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