Friday, January 16, 2009

An editorial letter to myself

DEFINITION OF AN EDITORIAL LETTER: The 3-4 page single-spaced letter from your editor detailing everything you need to address in your upcoming revision.

Okay. Ask any writer what he or she thinks about editorial letters and you can watch that person wilt, cringe, implode, OR possibly go up in flames like a drummer in THIS IS SPINAL TAP. Most of us slink off to bed for a day after reading the letter. Some of us really REALLY wish we drank when we get them. Honestly, no matter how complimentary your editor is, those letters are just daunting.

But by the next day you feel a little better. And, actually, as you read through the letter again, you realize your editor is probably right about a lot of things, and really if you just deal with one little suggestion at a time, the process won't be so overwhelming. I mean seriously. You GAVE BIRTH DIDN'T YOU? How hard can re-writing be?

Anyway, I decided to take my manuscript in hand--the one I completed in November at Betsy's farm and am just now re-working--and respond to it like my editor would. To this end I am writing myself an editorial letter, using the exact same phrasing that my own editors have used with me. Maybe I'll even take it to the post office and send it to myself.

Yes. It's true. I'm pretty much a genius.


Kerry said...

rewriting is much harder than giving birth.

shelley said...

In a perverse way, doesn't it feel kind of good? Like ripping off a band aid. Someone's looked at your work, and given it a serious, critical look.
And I'm hoping giving birth is easier. They don't give writers epidurals.

Lisa B. said...

Is it possible that you might publish selected excerpts of this letter? I would be very very interested.

I haven't received very many editorial letters, but one of the first I got said that "the writer seems young in the head." Huh.