Not too long ago, I received my first draft feedback from my editor (and by first draft I mean it was his first draft, but was at least my fifth). If you’ve ever put your heart and soul out on display for the singular purpose of it being critiqued, then you know that it can be a bit of an emotional experience no matter how confident you are. You are, in essence, asking someone who is probably more or less a stranger to tell you everything that is wrong with your book praying that their resume actually translates into them “getting” your story and style. And then you pay them large amounts of money to do all this while just hoping that they’re not a complete jerk about it.
Now, I was one of those people who was feeling pretty good about my novel upon submission, but when my editor asked for an extra week to finish, my apprehension decided to be known and from that point on, I experienced what I am now dubbing the, “Livin’ On A Prayer” feedback loop; yes, inspired by Bon Jovi. There are five (5) stages I’ve identified in the “Livin’ On A Prayer” feedback loop, and I firmly believe that to be a successful author (or a successful anything) you need to be prepared to go through this full range of emotions. Multiple times.
Stage 1: They Love Me?
After months, or most likely years, of crafting your incredible break-out novel, there is nothing but silence from your editor for weeks as they pour over each setting, character and word. This could be a disaster.
Stage 2: They Love Me Not.
These are the minutes, hours, or days (depends on how bad you got it) where you have to come to grips that your editor hasn’t told you that this is the most amazing story they’ve read in a long time. Nor have they told you that no other book is even worthy to share a shelf with yours. Instead, all you’ve seen from them is all the ways your book needs help. Remembering why you hired your editor is important in this stage; and it wasn’t to stroke your ego.
Stage 3: Well, you know, maybe…
Settling into the new reality that you didn’t nail your manuscript all by yourself the first time, the realization begins to dawn that your editor actually has some really good points and ideas. I mean, there was that one thing he said… and if the character did this thing than that could allow for…
Stage 4: Aw, ya!
The moment you accept your editor’s advice and realize that nothing but improvements are ahead. When you’re done with this thing, it is going to Blow. Your. Mind. #nopainnogain
Stage 5: A Writer’s Life For Me, yo-ho
Unless both hands are on the keyboard typing, this is what the glamorous writer’s life looks like. Getting lost in thought and imagination- alone. And forgetting to eat. Yup, that happens a lot too.
If you don’t love this last stage (repeated 3 or 4…or 6+ times) then you might want to consider your dedication to, or reason behind, being an author. No one cranks out a master piece without multiple revisions (cue internet to prove me wrong on my absolutism). You need to believe in your novel and love it enough to spend portions of your life taking your novel from good to amazing and then preparing it for the next round of critiques, whether that be in the form of beta-readers, editor #1.2, #2.0, #3.0, or the final audience after which after each step this whole cycle repeats.
So, happy editing, everyone! Now go listen to some Bon Jovi- it’ll be good for you.