Jun 13 2016

Here I Sit, Waiting For My Editorial Call

Some of you already know this, but I wrote a book. I started it in 2011 while I had a full-time teaching job, so I worked on it during nights and weekends and then got pregnant with P and finished the first draft during the summer of 2013. Or maybe 2014, I don’t remember — it kind of took forever. And then I put it through four full revisions (and several mini ones), adding passages and deleting chapters and completely changing characters, and then I just ignored it for several months because there was NO POSSIBLE WAY I could ever attempt to publish a book like that while I was a teacher. It’s fiction, but several chapters take place in a high school. A lot of it has to do with the things in this article. There are some swear words.

In order to feel the least bit comfortable putting something like that into the universe, I figured I’d have to quit.

And then I did quit.

Not by choice, you know, but suddenly there were no more excuses. So I went to a writers conference and clicked with one amazing editor and she agreed to take a look at my novel.

I sent it to her on May 31. She told me to expect an email in a few weeks, but on June 8 — JUNE 8 — she emailed to say she was ready to set up our two-hour editorial call. So that’s supposed to happen this afternoon.

Pins and needles, you guys. PINS AND NEEDLES. I don’t even know what an editorial call IS, really, except that it precedes her editorial letter, and I’m pretty sure that’s the part where she tells me I should throw the manuscript in the trash. I think we’re technically supposed to discuss dragging plot points and characters who need further development, but I’m worried I might hear two hours of This is not marketable. No one will want to read this. Why would anyone create such drivel?! YOU HAVE WASTED EIGHT DAYS OF MY TIME.

What will hopefully happen instead is that she will help me to make it much, much better, because I’ve looked at those pages so many times over the last five years that I just can’t even see them anymore. And I’m surrounded by unpacked boxes because we moved into the new house two days ago, and I can’t even locate my pens and paper (or sanity). Things are overwhelmingly disorganized all around me. In fact, I should probably be unboxing those boxes instead of typing a blog post, but I need to calm my nerves and I thought writing might do the trick.

Though I could totally stand to thicken my skin, I don’t think I’m the absolute worst at handling criticism — especially criticism I ASKED to receive. However, I’m concerned that this call has the potential to change my perspective about my own words. What if she detests my very favorite chapters? I’ll never be able to see them with the same eyes — they will henceforth carry a stain. What if some issues are so horrifically, unforgivably unfixable that we both determine I should just give up?

I can still recall the angst on my students’ faces whenever it came time to return a major assignment. Some of them literally gnawed their nails as I passed back papers and begged me to just skip them: “I don’t want to see it, Ms. B! I don’t want to know how I did!” I laughed and told them everything was going to be okay.

I GET IT, kids. I remember now. I don’t think I want to leave this window of blissful unawareness either. It’s a lot more comfortable to keep telling yourself you’ll chase a dream someday than to actually buckle down and chase it, because no one’s had the chance to tell you no yet.

Sitting here in tipping-point limbo, waiting for the call, things still feel semi-safe. If you need me, I’ll be hiding here amongst the boxes until the phone rings.

About Melissa

Melissa Bowers is a high school teacher from Michigan who (reluctantly) moved across the country when she was six months pregnant. Her days used to be filled with great works analyses and discussions of intricate film and literary techniques, but they are now consumed by a curious 3-year-old, a spirited kindergartener, and the desperate urge to write ALL THE THINGS -- which generally occurs a paragraph at a time whenever the children happen to nap. Since moving to California, her work has been published by Writer's Digest and The Writer, and her articles are regularly featured on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, and others.

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