After the Ecstasy, the Editing

Everything editors, agents, and authors have told me at SCBWI conferences has turned out to be true, particularly the things I didn’t believe would be true for me.

For example, I’ve been told that getting a book deal will not magically transform me into a permanently satisfied, optimistic, and resilient human.  When SCBWI folks said stuff like that, I remember thinking, “Oh, I’m sure that’s true for the other pre-published writers here, but not me. Once I get a book deal, I may still be an easily-exhausted anxiety-prone weirdo, but then I’ll be that weirdo WITH A BOOK DEAL AND THAT WILL MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.”

Nope. Sigh.

After the ecstasy of getting “the call” in 2016 from my darling agent and connecting with my talented editor to begin the publication journey for my debut middle-grade novel, I expected to wallow in utter contentment for a long time. Years of wallowing. At the very least I’d wallow through the whole process of getting my manuscript out into the world.

Then the first round of revision edits was delivered to my door, and with it arrived the Mind Games Writers Play On Ourselves (yep, MGWPOO).

I got caught up in such MGWPOO favorites as:Shel Silverstein head

  • I’m Not a Real Writer
  • Before I Can Handle Criticism, I Need to Die
  • Chasing False Measures of Success
  • Envy of All the Other Writers Who Don’t Struggle with This Crap
  • The 33 -Minute Limit of Success-Fueled Joy-Basking Before I Find a Way to Undermine Myself
  • The Permanent Longing for Success That Makes Hope Painful.


TheySidecar (4) come roaring along with every new delivery of manuscript revisions, like rumbling motorcycles leaving greasy tire tracks across my soul, and this thousand-pound steel sidecar is attached to every single one: Beating Myself Up for Falling into Mind Games Again.

What’s an anxiety-prone weirdo to do?

First, I think, find another writer somewhere who will tell you that you are not alone in this. (You’ve found me. I’m telling you. You’re not.) Airing out the mind games, bringing them into the light of discussion with your fellow writers shows them up for what they are: common. Common as commas.  I’m beginning to think none of us can publish a manuscript with some of them in the mix.

Editing Kit Kats

Next, it seems smart not to assume the mind games will pass us by.  We must arm ourselves for the ongoing battle; perhaps with weapons of Show Kindness to Fellow Writers and Give Yourself Time and Turn the Nebulous Sense of Mortal Despair into a Concrete To-Do List. I’m still working on this concept as my battle armor currently consists of a jar of Kit Kats.

But I’ve got my MGWPOO out in the open now, here in the light of EMU’s Debuts, and that’s a start.

(Many thanks for the warm wit and wisdom of my agency-mates Anne Nesbet, Ann Bedichek, and Sophie Petersen for convening the Special Committee on Writerly Mind Games and How to Defeat Them. Check out Anne Nesbet’s Middle Grade Mayhem post on the same topic!)

Christina Uss

CHRISTINA USS is a bike writer, bike rider, mother of twins and dweller of Massachusetts. Her debut novel THE ADVENTURES OF A GIRL CALLED BICYCLE comes out Spring 2018 from Margaret Ferguson Books/ Holiday House. Help her learn to dodge the MGWPOO at



Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Anxiety, jealousy, process, rejection and success, Uncategorized, Writing and Life

12 responses to “After the Ecstasy, the Editing

  1. katieslivensky

    Love. This. So. Much.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mariagianferrari

    Sheer brilliance!! Thanks for your candor and humor, Christina!! I so wish I hadn’t missed this at the retreat 🙂 <3!! And I can't wait to read your book!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. skvanzandt

    I love this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh man!! This was awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this. So full of heart and humor!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Christina. Thank you for your candor! As someone whose novel is now subbed and making the rounds, I’m already fearing what you describe–and we haven’t even had a nibble of interest yet! I guess I’m experiencing “pre-MGWPOO.” 😉


    • Christina Uss

      Terry – good news! The mind games appear to begin the second we put our story down on paper, no need to wait until the revisions stage. Wait – that’s terrible news! Nooooooo….but at least you are not alone, my friend!


  7. Reblogged this on Terry Pierce and commented:

    Author Christina Uss offers some insight into “Mind Games Writers Play On Ourselves” after getting that first book deal.


  8. Wonderful, Christina! “MGWPOO” is excellent–still working on the proper pronunciation for that one (like “SCBWI”–it’s tricky). So great to know we’re not alone in our mind games…… 🙂


  9. Carleen M. Tjader

    Great post, thanks! And congrats on your book!


  10. MGWPOO deflected by Kit Kat battle armor. Good stuff 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. And congrats on your book!


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