Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Second Time Through This Big Mess

Revisions are a part of the publishing process. That's how it is, and there's no arguing that our books are generally a lot better when they resurface on the other side.

I often enjoy revisions more than writing first drafts because the presence of the words on the page feels like a safety net. I've already finished the story once -- I am capable of connecting the dots in a more sensible way the next time around.

I take pride in being pretty good at revisions. There is minimal crying and literary mess to clean up after I'm done. Coffee and cookies help, of course.

But this time is different. Unlike most debut writers, I just turned in my first round of edits to my second editor. After believing that I was done with I AM DRUMS, I rolled up my sleeves and dived in again. For good reasons, to be sure, but that didn't make it any easier.

Let me explain where I was at the beginning of 2015:
  • My revisions for my editor were done.
  • Copyedits were done.
  • ARCs were in my hand.
  • Everything I needed to make the book feel real had happened.
I was about to deliver first pass pages when my publisher was suddenly not a thing anymore. I tripped while climbing the publishing mountain and landed right back at the beginning, in submission hell.

It's been a surprisingly smooth experience, of course, thanks to my amazing agent working miracles to get my book back in good hands. And the phenomenal editor I landed with -- let's just say she's amazing and spot-on, which helps when you loved your previous editor as much as I did. Most writers are lucky to work with one great editor, and I've worked with two -- how awesome is that?

Then I had to dive in to I AM DRUMS again, looking at big and small structural and logistic problems. All good stuff, and none of it as daunting as that first edit letter -- the one that makes debuters curl up in a ball and sob inside. But I was jumping into a book that was THIS CLOSE to entering the world, and I had to face the truth that it could be better. Can't all books be better? That's one of the tricky parts of revision -- determination to improve what isn't done while also letting go of something that needs space so it doesn't shrivel up under the pressure.

It's hard to explain how this feels. My book was done, but it wasn't done. There was a larger emotional punch I could achieve. I didn't want to do it, but it had to be done. And I finished the first (but likely not last) round of edits yesterday when I hit SEND and sent my latest draft to my editor. I'm terrified I've botched the whole thing, but that's how I feel every time I send in revisions. You're re-proving that you're good at this job in the first place.

I will be proud of the book that finally releases, but right now the process is a little emotionally mangling.

Mike Grosso is the author of I AM DRUMS, a debut contemporary middle grade for musicians of all ages. It was orphaned due to the closing of Egmont USA, but has found a new home at Clarion Books and an updated release date of September 16, 2016. The Fall Fifteeners have been nice enough to let him hang out even though he's technically a sixteener now.

You can visit Mike's website here or follow him on Twitter @mgrossoauthor.

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