Your manuscript is done—yay!—but after showing it to trusted beta readers, you’ve gone from elation to depression. Your manuscript is going to require more work than Heidi Montag’s new face. Is it the end of the world? No. But you will experience grief. Five stages, in fact. It’s like the death of a loved one except that what’s dying is your book as you knew it, coupled with the realization that you will not, a la Jack Kerouac, be pounding out your manuscript in one sitting in a seamless bestselling narrative.
Here are the five stages you may experience:
Denial. I’m fine. The book is fine. This input is a bit overblown, really. So what if we don’t meet the main character until halfway through the manuscript? It’s still really compelling and fast-paced. That alien probe scene alone will have agents clamoring to represent me. And the fact that the whole thing ends in a dream? Totally full of win. This is book awesome. Really. It is.
Anger. Who do this editor think she is? I mean, how many books have you published, bub? Is your bestie Suzanne Collins? I don’t think so. This is seriously not fair. I’m taking some lighter fluid to these notes. Better yet, I’m going to eat the notes, poop them into a bag, and then mail the bag to my editor.
Bargaining. Wait, what if I don’t have to change the whole book to make it work? I mean, what if I just add a scene toward the beginning where the main character realizes what they need to know, but then they don’t do anything about it until the end? That would work, right? Or, okay, what if I just cut out the creepy uncle? He doesn’t really move the plot forward, except for the fact that he commits the murder that the main character has to solve. But I could just nix him and then book would be way better. Right?
Depression. If the Bridges of Madison County and Twilight totally took a dump, that pile of crap would be my manuscript. I don’t know why I even bother writing. I should just give up. I think Starbucks is hiring, which is what all us writers are destined for anyway, right? Hey, I’m a writer, you want whip on that mocha? Order by size first, then tell me what kind of milk you want. Venti non fat latte. Like that. It’s not rocket science, people. I bet none of you even realize how close I came to getting a six-figure, two-book deal. None of you.
Acceptance. My book isn’t perfect, but I am a writer nonetheless. I wrote my book because I believe in it, and I know it can be amazing. I also know it’s going to be a long road getting there. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a journey. But I can do it. I’ve trained, I’ve practiced, I’m ready to tackle this again. And if I don’t get it on the next round, maybe I’ll get it on the round after that. I believe in this project, and I’ll see it through to the end. I am a writer. I write. And my book will reflect that. Ready? Set? EDIT.