Friday, August 7, 2009

Getting Over It

Landscape--Prudence Heward We were on I-40 on Sunday, driving back to Charlotte from my research trip to Memphis when my husband drove up on a completely-stopped line of cars on the interstate. Obviously, there’d been a wreck or some sort of accident. We’d already been on the road about 7 hours at this point and I got it into my head that I was not going to sit in that line.

“Exit right here!” I said in an urgent voice.

“But we don’t know where that exit goes,” answered my husband in a very reasonable tone.

“It’ll be okay,” I said. “If we get stuck in that pile of traffic then both kids will have to go to the bathroom and I will, too.”

Soooo…..we got off on this exit. We drove along the curvy rural highway, through a tiny downtown, some beautiful rolling countryside, past a scary-looking redneck grinning at us from a ditch, and then—up a mountain. And up a mountain. We then saw a little sign that said we were at 4500 ft. My husband looked over at me. I gave a weak smile. “Mr. Toad’s wild ride,” he said. “But it’s pretty,” I said stubbornly, as the time we’d spent on our little bypass neared an hour.

This was followed by my sudden realization we were at Looking Glass Falls near Brevard, NC (no, that wasn’t exactly on our way home.) I dragged the half-asleep children and my very patient husband (who was rapidly getting more exasperated with me, though) out of the car to take pictures of them in front of the waterfalls…it was almost 8:30 p.m. and pretty dark then, but I got the shot, by golly.

Yes, I am becoming the stereotype of the crazy writer.

The above story illustrates the sad fact that I’m hard-headed. It’s very difficult to change my mind about anything. Except my writing. I’ve learned not to mind about not getting my way when going through revisions. I’ve gotten over it.

Here’s why I’ve gotten over being hard-headed about revisions:

The editors and my agent care about my book possibly even more than I do. Yes, I do love my books. But my editor and agent are industry professionals who really care about the project their names are associated with. After all, it’s their job on the line if they take on a series of substandard books.

In my experience, the revision requests are handled very professionally. The first round of revisions I received for Pretty is as Pretty dies was in early fall last year. The wording of the requested revisions was very polite: “Would I consider changing…?” And it was all done in writing, which is my favorite way of doing business.

Their suggestions made my book better. Every time. After all, they read more than I do. Sometimes I could not figure out why the heck they wanted me to make a change. I rewrote the scene with the change to see what I thought and every time I was amazed at how much better it read.

This is a commercial endeavor. I know we’re all artists. But as soon as I came to the realization that these books have got to be able to sell or else no one is going to get an opportunity to read them, I was totally on board.

Being open to others’ revisions has made me a better writer. Now if I can only get over my stubbornness in the other areas of my life…