The non-toilet thing that leaped out at me with particular vigor was this: I have to respond to every single comment in some way, even if it’s to say “okay.” Here’s how my mind automatically transmogrified that sentence: You don’t actually have to MAKE all those changes, pinhead! Yippee!
So dude, that means some of the copyedits are potentially optional? Really? That seems like a good thing, eh? Yes, I should probably be more horrorstruck by J’s image of nearly 300 pages of densely packed blue inkmarks, but the idea that you don’t actually have to change everything that gets marked up is new to me.
It’s not new on a grand, conceptual scale, of course – I went through the same information-seeking process as everyone else during the hunt for representation and publication, so I know that one should be ready to find compromises and alternate solutions during the edit letter and line edit stages. One of the first things I did with my editor Arthur Levine was rework the title, in fact, which felt like a decent way to dive right into that dynamic. I am so ready to kill my darlings! Death, oh my darlings! DIE DIE DIE…well, you get the picture.
So yeah, I’ve continued on in that vein through the first couple of editorial stages, butchering words left and right, cheerfully disposing of stuff that my editor suggested is superfluous, feeling pretty darned good about having all this guidance, thinking that copyedits would be a piece of cake, comparatively speaking. After all, the really hard creative decisions will all have been made by then, right? And I haven’t objected to hardly any of it so far! Nope, not a thing, really! It’s all been good! I’ve been very accepting of…
…and of course I went into a bit of a neurotic death spiral and thought, Charlie Brown style, oh good grief, SHOULD I be objecting to more stuff? Am I being TOO ACCEPTING? I’m prone to this kind of absurd, self-sabotaging, navel-gazing lunacy, which probably comes as something less than a shock.
But hi-dee hi-dee ho, I snapped out of it by reminding myself that Arthur and I want the same things, and that if I trust his judgment on this stuff there’s no good reason to make myself distrust his feedback when I, you know, trust it (and I’m sure there’s a way I could make that sentence into even more of a circular wormhole if I tried). I went and re-read this interview he did for The Purple Crayon (scroll all the way down to the “ author-editor relationship” part), then took a moment to lovingly caress my copy of Millicent Min, Girl Genius, which always reassures me. I talked myself off the ledge! Rah!
And then I read J’s post and thought aaargh, I thought copyedits would require FEWER creative judgment calls! Aargh! Because it’s definitely true that I egotistically break the rules (my rash assumption being that I know the rules, which in reality is probably up for serious debate), and there are likely to be cases where I object to the copyeditor’s very gently delivered suggestions on creative, stylistic grounds. Right?
Or will I? Will be my blithely accepting nature just lead me to following up on all the copyeditor’s suggestions too? And would that be a bad thing? Because while I have as many control freak tendencies as anyone, I don’t think I’m a particularly egregious example of that annoying species, and having specific, detailed feedback to follow up on has been really, really cool.
I just want to be told what to do! Oh wait, that’s bad, I don’t wanna be a freaking doormat! You know what, someone just drop a piano on my head and get it over with. After my book’s released, though. GEEZ, LET ME HAVE THAT ONE MOMENT OF HAPPINESS…
Yours in terrible, writhing, newfound uncertainty,