I just sent the final copyedits in on my new book, The Real McCoy. It was with fear and trembling that I pressed the “send” button on the email to my publisher.
As I went through the manuscript again—and again—I tried to let it go. But on every page, I thought if I worded a phrase differently, changed things up a smidge, here a soupcon, there a scoche, the story would go from merely adequate to magnificent! But…on the other hand, maybe the better word was the original one. Maybe my changes were making it worse, not better…
Writers can be a little OCD, a little on the neurotic side, I suppose. My question is, do they ever get well? I realized a long time ago that when my manuscripts were safe in a drawer that it was less nerve racking. As long as they were there, no one was critiquing them. No one was laughing at them. No one was rejecting them. Together, all those thousands of words made up my creation, my baby, and I wanted to protect it from pain. Who’s kidding whom here? I was protecting me from pain; from an editor scrawling across my rejection form letter in big red letters—“Throw this one out. Not worth the postage”
But writers need to know their words are being read. They don’t write for fun! Whoever said that writers write for the joy of it hasn’t stressed over a plot point that has her wide awake at 3 am in a cold sweat at the realization that Joe can’t fall in love with Amy because they’re really twins separated at birth!
And what about dialogue that sounds like two year olds at play. “Mine,”he said. “No, mine,” she retorted. He replied, “No, no, mine!” as he bonked her on the head, stole her ice cream cone and then savored his hard won prize with immense satisfaction.
Yes, writers keep writing despite the rejection, despite the plot holes big enough for an eighteen wheeler to drive through, despite the struggle for the bon mot and scintillating dialogue. They write in the hope that when their words finally come together and are scattered to the winds, they will touch hearts and minds, and accomplish great and wondrous things.
Yes, writers may wear their neurotic hearts on their sleeves, but no one can accuse them of thinking small!