Last week, in Part 3 of my blog series about Her Mother’s Secret , I talked about the process of actually writing the book. I finished at the point at which I was about to send it to my editor, thinking it was amazing and wouldn’t need much work in the way of structural editing. Ha! I was very deluded.
19 Pages of Notes
I received back from my publisher 19 pages of single-spaced notes for the structural edit. 19 pages! Can I tell you how daunting it is, when you think your book is fabulous, to receive an email like this? You literally want to hide under your desk and never come out and never speak to your publisher again because you’re so embarrassed that you’ve written such an awful book. You also want to cry. A lot.
Except you can’t. You have to come out from under the desk, you have to read the notes dispassionately and you have to remember that structural editing is all about making your book even better. Every book needs work. It would have been so nice to think mine didn’t but it taught me a big lesson about over-confidence
You’re Not a Shit Writer
What got me through this stage was a quote from author Charlotte Wood in an interview in the Financial Review. She said,
You learn that getting a hard edit doesn’t mean you’re a shit writer.
And that was exactly it. I was equating the hard edit with my writing ability, and thinking I had none. But in actual fact, when I thought about it – why would the editor bother to take all that time to type up 19 pages of notes if she thought I was a shit writer?
The fact that she thought I could handle it meant she thought I was anything other than a terrible writer – although I would have preferred for her to have found another way to tell me that!
Killing All the Darlings
So I threw out 50,000 words. You’ve heard the saying kill your darlings? This was a massacre. The floor was awash with the blood of all 50,000 of my darlings. I wrote a brand new 50,000 words to add to the 50,000 that had survived. But it actually felt good. Until I sent it back and got another 6 pages or so of structural editing notes.
But compared to 19, six pages felt manageable. So I threw out another 25,000 words. I was a lean mean word killing machine at this point. I’m pretty sure I could hear the words squealing every time I sat down at my desk, wondering which of them would survive. I wrote another 25,000 words to replace the ones I threw away.
All up I threw away 75,000 words. Yes, that’s an entire book. So, actually, this is my 5th book, not my 4th, There’s an entire book sitting in my bin.
A Crash Course in Writing
A the end of the process, I sat down and read the rewritten, cut and polished version of Her Mother’s Secret and I realised that I had, basically, in the space of 2 months, had a crash course in writing. I’d learned more than I thought it was possible to learn. I knew I was a better writer because of everything that I’d thrown out and everything that I’d rewritten and every solution I’d had to find to the 19 pages of questions.
Best of all, I finally knew what it meant to say I’m proud of my book. I hope you enjoy it too.
You can buy the paperback at Booktopia here.
You can buy the ebook at iBooks here.
You can buy the ebook at Amazon here.
You can buy the ebook at Kobo here.
You can buy the audiobook at Audible here.