Sunday, January 18, 2009

Return of The Zombie

In my last post I mentioned that the manuscript for my teen novel, Never Slow Dance With A Zombie, was sent back to me with more notes. It took me til yesterday to finally open the package, and look inside. I braced myself for all the negative comments, but there weren't any. Just a few continuity questions, a request that I identify the speaker in one spot (although I have to admit, it was obvious), and things like that. Ten queries in all. Aside from that the manuscript was chockablock with edit notes in red pencil for the production people. Some of the edits had to do with type style, as there are letters in the book.

Man, I was so nervous. I always have to brace myself for criticism, because I know my first reaction is going to be to hate the critique. If anyone is reading this, I'd like to know how do you handle criticism? Time has taught me that my usual knee jerk reaction isn't the best way to go. I've learned to give the critique time before I address it. I waited a full moth before addressing the first set of notes I received on the manuscript. All I kept thinking was, this editor has missed all my symbolism, and doesn't understand this book at all. Now, after four edits, I have to admit I love my editor. She has been kind and patient, and sometimes firm with this first time YA novelist. She has made my book so much better. I can't wait for it to come out. If I had reacted to what I was thinking when I read her first letter to me, who knows how this would have turned out.

Anyway, I'd like to hear how you deal with criticism. I can always use a new tool for my toolbox. That's it for now. My editor said in her letter, this is my last chance for any changes, so I'm going to spend the day re-reading the manuscript.

Sleep tight, don't let the zombies bite.


  1. Hm...

    I've not had to deal with editors' comments (...yet), but in college I did learn a lot about handling my ego and taking criticism. I realized that in order to give any comments their proper due, I had to separate the part of me that is the "writer" and the part of me that handles "business".

    "BusinessSam" understands that if 5/5 readers (or one important reader, i.e. my thesis advisor) missed the allusion or symbolism or needed clarification, then it was probably "WriterSam's" problem. So I let BusinessSam take over and put WriterSam in her place.

    Of course, there were times when WriterSam would stick to her guns. In those instances, BusinessSam would simply ask WriterSam, "If you knew that keeping it the way you have it would mean losing a letter grade [or this group of readers, or that sale], would you still do it?" Sometimes the answer was a begrudging no, and sometimes it was a resounding HECK YES! I guess that's the tricky part.

    I know this explanation makes me seem like I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, but hopefully it's helpful.

    Great food for thought...

  2. Oh, and GOOD LUCK with the final read through! I'm excited for you. :-)

  3. That's very helpful, Sam. And I guess that's what I try to do. I just can't dissociate right away. I also agree that the tricky part is when do you stick to your guns. I like that you can separate--BusinessSam from WriterSam. That's good!

    I didn't finish the read through, but thank you so much for your well wishes.