Saturday, May 16, 2009

Welcome to copyediting ville

I'm in the copyediting stage of Breathe. (The photo doesn't really look like the copyedited pages, but I like it.) This is where everything is questioned, from word choice to logistics to the timeline. My job is to go through the copyeditor's changes and either accept or reject them, to answer her queries, and to make sure everything is as perfect as I can get it. Usually my novels are a mess--I have people driving north on a southern freeway, I have characters age in a nanosecond rather than years, and I might have a dog chomping chocolate with no ill effects.  I've had copyeditors for other books who made me crazy because they changed word choices I loved or they questioned things that I wanted stet. But this time, because my editor is so spectacular and thorough and because she went over and over everything, the ms. is relatively clean.  And my copyeditor is FAB.

She (or he) is catching everything that I would want to be catched!  (I'll just use she because it's too cumbersome to keep saying he or she) She questioned how a body gets from a hospital to a funeral home hours away (I didn't know), whether or not a puzzle could feel and look like an asthma inhaler.  She's like a literary personal trainer in a way! 

I cannot express how happy this makes me.

OK, a segue. I admit I have been thinking a lot about fear.  The other day I was carrying on to a friend, another writer, about how worried I was about my publishing future.  I'm scared that the market place is so terrible that my sales will be less than for my last book, which will impact sale of my next novel.  I'm scared that because so many newspapers have closed, I won't get reviews.  I'm scared!  My friend listened and then sighed.  "Don't you think what you might be scared of is success?" she asked.  "And what that means?"

I don't want to go into my psychology here, but I think she's right. Being successful at something comes with a price tag for me, so it's easy and even comfortable to stay lost in the worry world. I never quite believe my success because it feels dangerous to do so. But then I think of another writer friend, who was struggling for so long, and she began monitoring herself every time she started to worry.  Instead, she began thinking what it would be like to get a film deal for her book, to get starred reviews everywhere, and guess what, she got it all.  I know, I know, (roll of the eyes) magic thinking.  But maybe attitude opens you up to new experiences and possibilities.  Maybe it's like taking blinders off and seeing what is really there for you if you risk reaching out and grabbing it.  

In the meantime, I'm going back to my copyedits. I'm going to tell myself, look, you have this book in your hands and it is living and breathing and alive.


Gina Sorell said...

Congratulations!! What a great feeling that must be to love your clean, edited, ready for the presses ms!!

I know that conversation that you are describing all too well, and I love the idea of replacing the worry with a more positive thought or image! And I believe it works. I've seen it work! But it has to be practiced.

Recently I was worrying to my husband about my career and he kindly said, "I get it. I get it. I know how hard things are and all the things that could go wrong. I understand. Now why don't you start picturing all the things that could go right?"

And he's right. He does and it works for him! I am going start to as well.

Jeff Lyons said...


Fear of success. Gee I don't know anything about that.

But... one thing I also know...ironically sounds simple and platitudinous (love that word) ... but, the reality is... there is no price to pay. No lesson, no price, no nothin'. That's actually the scariest part, because if there ain't no price to pay, then ...

... you got it. What's the fear really about? Now it gets messy.

J :)

Clea Simon said...

I wonder, sometimes, if it is about control. You (and I) worry about the factors we cannot control: the marketplace, the critics, etc. Is this a distraction from what we can control? Is it really just a fear about putting our innermost-created work out in the world?

Foodfor thought!