Monday, October 10, 2011

Seven Easy Steps to Reading a Revision Letter

So, last Friday I got my revision letter for the sequel to Everneath (EVERNEATH 2: IT'S EVERNEATH-IER). This is always a scary time, I think for most writers. Unless you're Stephenie Meyer. She probably writes her own revision letters. Because she can do that. Because she's Stephenie Freakin' Meyer. 

When I know my revision letter is coming, I like to prepare myself. I look in the mirror and say:

"Your editor likes you. She likes your book. She likes your characters. It's not personal."

"Remember revision letters are just more writing. You like writing."

Then I get all existential:
"Remember your book is just a bunch of words. Made up of tiny letters. Which are really just blips on a computer screen. Why are you so attached to blips? What did they ever do for you?"

and then I get personal:

"Seriously, reflection, your hair is, like, white."
and then defensive:

"Shut up, mirror-me! The box told me I'd look like Sarah Jessica Parker!"

Then you get the actual letter. I have a process for this that involves seven easy steps. I'm not saying this will work for everyone. I'm just saying it works for me. 
Seven Steps to Reading a Revision Letter

1. The moment when you get the revision letter, spring back from the computer as if it is rabid. 

This will give you literal space between you and all of your mistakes.

2. Jog a few laps around the kitchen island, shouting old World War II phrases of battle, like: "Mayday Mayday!" and "Tora Tora Tora!" and "Vive l'Empereur !"

This will get your blood flowing, thus getting you ready for the next step, which is...
3. Reading the letter.  

Not you, though. You still stay away from the letter. Let someone more responsible, and less prone to hair dyeing mistakes, read the letter. In my case this person is Sam.

4. Have your more responsible half read all of the positive sentences from the letter, and skim over the rest. 

This will sound something like: "Blah blah blah... Oh, she really likes the ending. Blah blah blah blah... oh, she uses the word 'potential' a lot here. Blah blah blah."

5. Print the letter. 
While it is printing, stand next to the printer with your significant other, counting the pages as they print. Say things like, "It's probably going to be nineteen* pages long!" so that you can be pleasantly surprised when it is shorter.
*caution: Aim high because you really don't want to hit that number.

This time, it was seven pages long.

6. Go to dinner, and have your significant other mention briefly some of the highlights of the things your editor wants to change. 

This way, when you read the actual letter, you can already have some ideas as to how to fix things. You can even convince yourself that you were going to fix these things anyway, and her letter just confirms it.

7. Finally, blog about reading the editorial letter before you read the editorial letter. 

Um... check.

I just realized my "Seven Steps to Reading a Revision Letter" program doesn't involve actually reading the letter. So, I guess I should end this post and read it, since I got it three days ago. Unless you don't want me to go.

*eyes unread revision letter on kitchen table*

Cuz I could totally stay. And hang out for a bit. We could talk and stuff.

*imagines revision letter mocking me*

I mean, really. One more day of freedom won't hurt, right?


    This blog post made me anxious even though I just turned in round two of my edits. And now I will go eat some chocolate. GOOD LUCK!!

  2. Shari- Oh yeah! Chocolate! I could totally do chocolate before reading the letter. Excellent idea.

  3. You are hilarious. So is Everneath 3 going to be the Everneathiest?

    I'm cheerleading for you. Go rock those revisions!

  4. Gina- Yes! That is exactly the title for book 3. :) Thanks for the cheerleading.

  5. Oh, Brodi, I am right there with you. Just got my revision letter for book 2 last week. I know once I jump in everything will be's just the water feels so icy from out here!

  6. I'm positive your revision letter will be full of fabulous comments with maybe an edit or two in it. :) You'll do fantastic with those revisions. Look how awesome EVERNEATH 1 turned out!

  7. Step 8: send the draft and the revision letter to Robin. Then 1) you can feel good about helping a budding author learn what a revision letter really looks like; 2) you have the perfect excuse not to read it yourself--cause, of course, you emailed your only copy; 3) Robin is sure to say gushy fan-girl things about EVERNEATHIER, which will make you be all "whatever, Robin, it's not THAT good" and set out to prove her wrong. 'Cause everyone likes it when attorneys are wrong.

    (You're gonna rock that letter. The letter should fear YOU!)

  8. Marissa- It's good to know we're all in this together, right?

    Jenni- Thanks, girlfriend.

    Robin- haha! Mail my only copy. :)

  9. i say dye your hair again....

    just to avoid reading. you've got
    nothing better to do right?

  10. This is hilarious! I think #2 should be the response to pretty much every kind of stress in life. Can't decide which dress to buy? Run around the store shouting "Mayday, Mayday." 3 year old has an accident at WalMart? Start running. (This has the added advantage of getting you far away from the disaster scene.)

  11. Dorien- Excellent idea. Otherwise, I would be bored. :)

    Jenilyn- I think it's about to catch on, and take the world by storm. Congress can't decide on a budget? A bunch of senators run around yelling "Mayday, Mayday!"

  12. LOL, I love #4. I should read all my critiques/personal rejections/etc that way! Unfortunately I think I do it backwards: for about a day I moan about how "they hate my book," until my husband reads the letter and points out the good bits. And I do eat ridiculous amounts of chocolate at these times...

  13. LOL. Aww, good luck XD Loved this post.

  14. Donna- Wait. You handed chocolate to me? Where?! *Searches house*

    Faith- Backwards works great too. It's like swimming in a cold lake. I like to go toe by toe. You probably jump in, right? :)

    Lori- Hopefully you'll love the second book as much. :)

  15. Hahaha, I'll keep this in mind when I get my letter this week.

    One good thing I've found is to make a list of all the things YOU want to change, so you and your editor can just nod and agree about how stupid it was to make the love interest have a magic pony in the first place.

  16. Jill- Wait. Is that your way of telling me I need to get rid of the magic pony in my book? How did you know?!

  17. Robin is right. That letter should fear YOU!

    This post is so funny. I love that this game of writing and publishing doesn't get any easier. Keeps you on your toes.

    My hair is white, too. But I figure white is better than brass. I pretend like I'm one of those ladies who dye their hair this color on purpose and then go and put on some heels and chew some gum. ;)

  18. Shelly- You're right. I'm totally going to own my white hair. :)

  19. Your writer's-life posts always make me want to be a writer. I hope if I ever am, I will have as much fun as it sounds like you do (especially jogging and yelling Vive l'Empereur)

  20. Melissa- Going crazy is always fun!