I just had a terrific meeting with a friend who read my manuscript and gave me feedback.
I’ve had a bunch of people read it now – those five agents, the freelance editor, a couple of friends, my husband. The multiple readers have been helpful in that there were definitely some common themes in the things they didn’t like about the book. When you hear the same criticism from so many people, including the person who loves you the most, you have to take it seriously.
But in other ways, their feedback left me stymied. Some of the advice was conflicting; the more people that I heard from, the more confused I got. Some of the advice just plain seemed counterproductive. And sometimes I felt like I was being told to write an entirely different book, one that I never really wanted to write.
Fuff Tabachnikoff – the friend I saw this morning, who happens to be a terrific artist whose work you can view here – also offered up a suggestion that would drastically change the book and require a ton of rewriting.
But for some reason, her idea fit. It felt in line with what I originally wanted to achieve. It felt like it would be fun to write. It felt exciting to think about.
One thing I’ve learned from this about being an editor: It’s important not only to figure out whether a book has a workable plot, characters, tone etc. To be really helpful, you need to understand the author’s personal vision and goals for the work. So that the suggestions you offer will be ones that don’t simply make a better book — they make a better version of the book that the author wanted to write.
In any event, I think I see a path out of the valley of (writerly) death. I’m going to start to flesh out what a revised plot would look like, using Fuff’s suggestions. Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t; I’ve been thinking about it for a whole 20 minutes so it is too soon to say.
But at least I’m excited about making changes for the first time in months!