You've finally done it - sitting there in your neat little hands is the proof that you truly have achieved the goal you set for yourself 2, 7, 19 years ago: YOU are now an AUTHOR!
Commence trumpets, confetti, streamers and parades.
You see, my friend, the real work has just begun.
Sure, you spent hours toiling over the keyboard. You searched the dictionary and thesaurus for just the right word. You've checked punctuation, spelling and tense until you're tense. And now? Now you get an editor.
Being assigned an editor is a lot like going on a blind date. You have only the vaguest description of her (no, I'm not being sexist - I'm using "her" because my editor is a "her") and the assertion from your publisher that she is "amazing, easy to work with, likes puppies and kittens and doesn't bite on the first date."
You make arrangements to discuss your manuscript at a time convenient to both of you, at a place where you feel safe. You have an emergency escape plan, in case the meeting doesn't go well. You tell your friend, your Mom, your sister and your friend's friend where and when you're meeting, in case you turn up missing or your manuscript grows legs and appears on someone else's blog as a serial novel - GAWD FORBID!
At the appointed time and date, you nervously hover over the phone/keyboard/skype screen and wait until the EXACT time you agreed to discuss your Precious. You pet Precious nervously, smooth your hair, check your teeth for leftover salad and try not to sweat.
It doesn't help. You sweat.
Your editor calls/emails/skypes/meets you. She seems nice enough. She soothes your nerves and flatters your words, telling you she loves your voice, appreciates your complex sentence structure, LOVES your story and everything about you. You are her dream and she never thought you would turn out to be as good "for real" as the publisher who hooked you two up made you sound.
You are thinking the same thoughts. How could this wonderful, sweet, sensitive, truly appreciative and obviously highly discerning intellectual be meant for YOU! You've waited your entire life to meet someone like this, someone who appreciates your wit, your sensitivity and your proclivity for late night word storms huddled over a keyboard with nothing but the bats and that 18 oz. bar of chocolate to keep you company. She's UH-MAZE-ING!
You are in love. She tells you she needs (insert number here) days to finish reviewing and commenting before she sends Precious back to you for developmental edits. You're too star-struck to tell her you don't know what developmental edits are, but respond in the affirmative and dance away with stars in your eyes. Cuz you're star-struck, remember?
You wait. You check email. You check your phone messages. You check Twitter/Facebook and anywhere else you can possibly check without actually STALKING your shiny new editor. You chew your nails, eat all the chocolate in the house, drink all the wine in the house and pout because… she still hasn't called you back.
And you feel the way you felt the day after Prom Night… waiting for THAT call.
You know - the one where the caller lists all the wonderful qualities that attracted them to you, only to end with "but I feel there's something missing."
Yeah. That call. That's called "developmental edits." And it does come… exactly when she said it would. She's punctual, if nothing else. And she still sounds nice, as she rips you to shreds.
She points out all the inconsistencies, unresolved conflict, extraneous scenes/characters/descriptions and excessive use of adverbs. She reminds you to "show, don't tell" and to limit the use of vague pronouns. Or any pronouns where possible. She sends you a list of 47 words/phrases to completely eradicate from the Precious, reminds you it's all due back by next Saturday and sends air-kisses your way as she cheerily hangs up/concludes her email.
And she can't wait to see you again.
Yes - there will be a second date after all. Once you tend to your wounded pride. Cuz getting an editor is a helluva lot like dating. You keep putting yourself out there, giving it your best, toughing it out while they play Whack-A-Mole with your ego.
Actually, dating might be easier.
Part Two - The Long Term Relationship, coming next week!