Alright. So yesterday, I did the long-winded thing when answering Kristi's see-ree-us question about writey things. Frankly, I'm still astounded that I can b.s. that much--I mean, that I know so much about writing. Because I do. Know things. Like the average airspeed of a laden swallow. African AND European.
But the one drawback to my infinite knowledge is that it's, well, infinite. I can't shut up. I MUST SHARE MY KNOWLEDGE WITH THE WORLD! Unfortunately, I was so busy sharing ad nauseum that I didn't get to Masonian's question, which is also see-ree-us and writerly. So let's do that now, shall we?
Masonian was crazy enough to ask me the following: "And, how many drafts/rounds of serious editing did you go through of NP/NB before submitting to agent? What about since agent accepted? And since publisher accepted?" He also asked a question about frothy toe paste, but we're going to pretend we didn't notice that one.
You may not have known this, but Masonian owns the letter Z. He's also in an awesomesauce band, which is linked above. As far as I know, they don't sing about the letter Z, but they should.
But on to editing. See, this is kind of a difficult question for me to answer because I'm an obsessive editor. Every time I sit down to write a couple of pages, I end up editing the previous chapter. It helps me get back into the voice, especially if I've been away from the mannie for a couple of days. It has the unfortunate side effect of making the beginning of my books so tight you can bounce a quarter off them, but the endings not so much. I'm learning how to deal with this. I have a twelve step group. Steps three through twelve are exactly the same, but I've got twelve, damnit!
All in all, I think I edited the book around eight times before sending it to Fabulous Agent Kate. After she accepted, I did three in-depth edits, and by "in-depth," I really mean I completely rewrote the last quarter of the book. (See above twelve step program. Rewriting the ending is steps three through twelve. The first two steps are sitting down at the computer and turning it on.)
But here's the part I really wanted to talk about. Sadly, it took me this long to get here, but that's okay. I want to talk about the pre-offer edit. See, I was thrilled when Super Agent Kate emailed me to say we had interest in No Pain. Thrilled doesn't even begin to describe it; I quite literally ran around the house making this EEEEEEEEE! sound, called Slayer and left a completely incomprehensible message, talked to him, and then finally realized that I should write Kate back. By this time, my poor agent was wondering if I was still conscious and should she call 911.
But this was NOT an offer. This was an expression of interest IF I could cut some words. A lot of words. Like, over 10,000 words.
Now, there's one of two ways to look at this. Either you get discouraged that it's not an offer, and probably you'll spend all this time making these cuts, and she's going to hate it, and you'll be so ashamed that you'll go to the tattoo parlor and get "LOSER" put on your forehead so people are instantly aware of your shortcomings. Or you could think, "OMG! A real live editor has given me ideas on how to make my book better!" and realize that no matter what happens with this situation, you've won because you'll come out with an awesomesauce-squared book and maybe a publisher too.
I chose the latter. Partly because I don't want a forehead tattoo, but mostly because it seemed like the right way to go.
And I started cutting. I rallied my uber-seriously-beyond-fabulous critique group for suggestions and support. It took me a week to cut 15,000 words, reread the manuscript twice, and send it off to the lovely and astoundingly talented Kiersten for a fresh read. It all happened so fast that I quite literally forgot she'd read it and asked her again a few weeks later.
By this time, I barely recognized my own book. It had a brand new ending (again). One character and about a thousand high schoolers were cut from the manuscript entirely. It felt twenty times better than before. Funnier. More suspenseful. Less sucky. Less overpopulated with high schoolers. I sent it back to my agent asking her to thank Rock Star Wendy for her suggestions, and I really meant it.
The offer came within a week.
Sure, I would have loved to get the offer outright, but in a way, I'm ahead of the game going into editorial revisions. I've already tackled the biggest problem with the manuscript. There's still plenty left to do, but it feels doable now that I've gotten that first round over with.
The moral of this story is simple: Every revision is an opportunity.
Wow. That was deep.