For years, I have had the same recurring dream. It starts out with me crawling through a tunnel of rock. It is long, convoluted and tight to the point of claustrophobia in places, but I am determined to keep going. I don’t know what waits for me at the end, I only know I can’t go back – going forward is the only option now.
I wake from this dream feeling unsettled, as if I need to finish something. I never like the dream, but in an odd way, I often look forward to it because maybe the next time I’ll make it to the end of the tunnel, maybe I’ll find out what waits for me at the end.
I haven’t had the dream in a long time, until just recently, but I think I know why. I have ventured into the unknown. I have entered the world of publishing. For years, getting published has been my Holy Grail. That one thing I looked for above all else and now finally hold, at least virtually, in my hand. The experience has been almost surreal.
After years of doing nothing but writing and re-writing, offering my precious words up for sacrifice on workshops and to beta readers, and then more time spent writing query letters (a special hell all in itself); I almost became immune to rejection letters. It got to the point where I would scan to the first few words and then hit delete. We regret, I’m sorry, and the ever popular, I’m just not that enthusiastic about it, but maybe someone else will be, clogged my inbox on almost a daily basis. I once got a one word reply to a query- NO- short and to the point.
So, when I got the acceptance from my publisher, Lyrical Press, it almost didn’t register. It was that single E-mail that started me on my journey and much like my journey through the tunnel, I had no idea what waited for me on the other side, I only knew that things were put into motion and I had to find out what waited for me at the end.
The first thing I encountered was familiar—waiting. After months, sometimes years of waiting for replies from would-be agents, waiting was something I was used to. But this wait was not long. I was introduced to my editor. This is probably one of the most important relationships you will ever foster. Much like a marriage, it is vital that the author and editor are simpatico. Unlike any critter, or beta reader, your editor will look at your work under a microscope. Every word, every phrase, every mark better be perfect. Things you never thought of will be brought to your attention. Mistakes you thought you corrected will make you hit your forehead and say Doh!
If you are really lucky, like I was, you will get an editor that not only knows her job, but tempers her corrections with praise and compliments. One that will let your own voice shine through. One that will not let you get lost in the whole process. (Thanks, Pamela!)
Treat your editor, oh, I don’t know, like a god maybe? Respect them and what they can do for you. They can make the great story you have already written, fantastic! My published book is far better than the one I submitted to Lyrical.
It has been quite the ride and it isn’t through yet. I am still crawling through the tunnel, trying to find out what waits for me on the other side. I still wake feeling unsettled, but I have managed to gain more ground than I ever did before. There might even be a small light shining at the end of it. I’ll let you know when I get there.
~ Ann Simko