Between Scylla and Charybdis

My idea for a novella challenge fell on fertile soil and at least two friends are interested in trying it with me. Another friend is considering it. So this may happen after all.

Obviously the first thing to do if I want to do a novella challenge is to set up a reading list for myself of great novellas. If you have any suggestions of novellas you’ve loved, let me know.

For now I’m going to the Nebulas and Hugos for award-winning science fiction and fantasy novellas, the Black Orchid Novella awards for mysteries, and the RITAs for romance. I recognize that there are problems with the RITAs but I don’t know of another source to put together a list of romance novellas. I doubt that there is a historical fiction category for novellas, but if you know of a great novella or a source for awards for novellas in historical fiction, let me know.

I finished editing the flash fiction last night. It was a surprising amount of work for such a small thing. I also started incorporating edits from our publisher of Secret Project #2 and from Mia for the Thule collection.

Incorporating edits is a surprisingly challenging and painful process, which is why I put it off whenever possible. There is a quote that’s been going around one of the circles of writers I hang out with:

“You hire an editor when you are ready to spend money to hear that you have more work to do. That may sound obvious, but I’ve met many an author who hired an editor as a last step to validation, as the stamp of approval that would mean she could now safely publish. If you are not totally clear that hiring an editor means you will have more work to do, then you are not ready.”

–A Writer’s Guide to Persistence

​It is unquestionably true. The problem is that for many of us, we would never be ready if we allowed our feelings to take over on this.

I present a cheerful, brave face to my editors, as l learned to do writing in the corporate world. I know that I won’t get anywhere if I sulk with my underwear on top of my head saying, “No, no, no! My work is perfect. Go away.” At best people will laugh at me. At worst they will refuse to work with me in the future.

Or, on alternate days, “Aaaargh! I have 24 pages of edits to incorporate from mysterious Publisher of Secret Project #2. I’m an utter failure.” This leads to the depression and ennui that keeps me from ever submitting or publishing. Not the path for the professional.

I would be lying if I denied that my feelings often cycled through option one and option two above, sometimes so quickly that I think I am both the best writer and the worst at the same moment.

This is why it is critical to hire good editors. There will come a moment when I need to face their comments and my inner voice counsels both despair and arrogant display. I need my saner self to say, “You hired her for a reason. She’s the best. Take your underwear off your head and start reading the comments with an open mind. No, don’t just accept all revisions. Really review them. Do they work?” I look for excellence in editing and fortunately for me I find it.

Hopefully I’ll steer my emotional ship through the waters of Edit Season, evading the Scylla and Charybdis of rocky arrogance and soul-sucking despair to arrive at the shore of beautiful books.

Be well, friends!

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