Revise. Resubmit. (eek.)

 Great Expectations in manuscript. Photograph: Cambridge University Press

Great Expectations in manuscript. Photograph: Cambridge University Press

Oh lord.

So. Last night, I received my very first offer to “revise and resubmit”. The manuscript is CHERRY. The email was from a literary agent who has had the full for a while. She recently stopped accepting queries so she could concentrate on her backlog of stuff. CHERRY was part of that backlog of stuff. . .

Not an offer. But it wasn’t a no, either. Major revisions suggested, for sure. I agree with some. Have to think about others.

Actually, I have to think, period. The idea of changing my novel to make it more publishable (palatable?) is . . . I don’t know what. Scary and exciting and sad, all at the same time. Scary, because I would have to, you know, rewrite stuff. Big time. Exciting, because revising CHERRY might just make it better than it is, and that might land me an agent who can get my book published one day. Sad, because my beloved little novel may not survive intact, because it probably isn’t viable right now. I thought it was. I truly believed it was, which proves what I’ve always suspected, and what we writers are counselled against, time and time again:

I fell in love with my book.

That fast, I am at a crossroads. I have to decide what to do, what direction to take my novel. Of course, I could keep little CHERRY as is, close to my bosom–my baby, safe and soundly nestled in my arms, not going anywhere. Which, you know. . .

Or I could keep querying the thing, as is. Or self-publish CHERRY, as is. Or just wait and see what that the other powers that be decide, because the full is still out with another agent and two editors; a situation which could prove problematic. What if–

Cart before horse. Classic stalling tactic.

Right now, today, I have a literary agent who is willing to take another look at CHERRY, if I implement her suggested revisions. No guarantees, she said so herself, but she also said she thought I was a good enough writer to pull it off. And she actually said she’d love to read the revised version, if I decided to go that route.

Revise and resubmit. Writers do it all the time, I know they do. It comes with the territory when one is in the business of writing, especially when one wants to be published and I do. I do want that for CHERRY.

Last night, after I read the agent’s email, I clicked on Google and typed, “When an agent says revise and resubmit.” I don’t know what I was hoping to find. What I did find, on a Writer’s Digest online forum ( http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=75254 ), was a discussion about revising and resubmitting. One post, by novelist Steven Campbell, resonated with me, especially this:

 I think if you want to stay at 80% of your potential, keep writing new stuff. If you want to reach as close to 100% as you can, you need to edit and prune and pluck. Because it’s vastly harder to do that stuff than it is to write. It’s unbelievably painful to tear out two pages and throw them in the trash. But if it was easy everyone would do it.

Yep.

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20 thoughts on “Revise. Resubmit. (eek.)

    • Jen, thank you so much.

      Still wrapping my head around this development and what it means. Work? Absolutely. Possibilities? Maybe. For sure, this is discombobulating.

      The agent’s suggestions are very good. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, I am very grateful to her.

      Are her suggestions palatable? If I remove emotion from the equation then yes, I think they are palatable.

      Working on that.

      xo kk

      • Sometimes a suggestion on your work, emotion or no, is just plain WRONG. Other than the normal “I just put my heart and soul on the page, you ignoramus!” getting your back up, there’s a further revulsion if somebody’s suggestions are so out of bound they may as well have not read your work. So if they’re spot on, then they might be usable, and you might be able to go down that revisionary path.

        • Yep.

          I went on a ride today, considering the suggestions she made. I went through each one in my head, and thought about possible changes I could make. Like I said, there are a couple that I am . . . hesitant? to implement.

          But I’m thinking, okay, let it simmer a bit. I know I’m creative so I have that, and I have David Brandt to lead me in his own imperfect way. I have the wisdom of that agent, and the support of fellow writers–like you, Jen–who offer guidance and support. Can’t buy that. I shall have to be pragmatic, which isn’t my default.

          Even so, I shall carry on. I have to, right? Because that’s what successful writers do.

          🙂

          ❤ kk

  1. Removing emotion is definitely a tall order–but doable if you agree with the heart of the suggestions. I can think of several writing friends I’d be thrilled to see hopeful news from, but not one more so than you. ❤

    • High praise, mrs fringe, especially when I consider the source. ❤

      As for that no-emotion caveat, I agree with almost every suggestion, and am trying to work around the couple that are giving me pause. She is an agent; she knows what sells and what doesn't. And she was kind enough to offer not only her expertise, but another look at CHERRY down the line.

      Pretty good incentive to put on my big girl panties.

      🙂

      xo kk

  2. I agree with that. I consider myself very fortunate. Alas, now I actually have to DO something about it.

    (I knew there was a catch. 🙂 )

    Thank you for the kudos, Donna. Much appreciated, for sure.

    xo kk

    • Ouch.

      🙂

      I just now, not two minutes ago, emailed said agent, thanking her and telling her yep, I’m gonna revise and resubmit.

      OMG. What have I gotten myself into?

      Regardless, I thank you, Putputt. Your support is so, so appreciated. I’m going to do my best to get CHERRY published. I hope I can do this–no, I know I can do this. You can, I can. Right?

      ❤ kk

      • THAT IS AWESOME, KKPANTS!!!!! Wheeeee!!!! I am rooting for you. Let me know if you need another read-thru or anything after you’re done with the editing, yea?

        • Seriously, Putster? What a generous offer. Then again, I would be shitting my pants, wondering if the hippo agreed with my edits and all that good stuff, being as she’s so damn good at writing and revising and everything. . .

          xoxo kk

  3. Omg! Congratulations! That quote is so true. I used to write new story after new story and couldn’t understand why my writing wasn’t improving as much as I wanted. You always have to do what resonates with you. Don’t make any changes you can’t live with, but everything we write can always be better. Good luck with the decision making! This is so exciting!!

    • I agree with you, krystal–it’s when you revise that you get down to the nuts and bolts of writing, put it all together, fine tune everything.

      Get your hands dirty. Sweat profusely.

      🙂

      Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your experiences, krystal. Good luck in your writing, too.

      xo kk

  4. Fantastic news! I keep checking back here to see how things are going and lo and behold, you’ve had a great response. I know it’s tough to take an objective view of something you’re so close to but the agent seems to want to work with you and that’s a wonderful plus. Good luck with your revisions. You can do it!

    • Eeek! Yikes!

      🙂

      Linnea, thanks for that.

      Yesterday I tried to find out the best way to approach an R&R (ha, I sound like I know what I’m talking about, don’t I?). Seems like conventional wisdom is:

      1. Sit on the suggested edits for a couple of days, let them percolate, see if they align with your vision for your novel.
      2. If they do, read your novel start to finish, making notes at the parts of concern, jotting ideas for changes.
      3. Go back and start writing, hacking, whatever.

      I made it through Number 1. Started on Number 2 today and kind of veered off schedule. Started reading; next thing I know, I’m revising on da fly. Got through the first five chapters. Chapter 6 was one of the problem chapters and I revamped that today. I think it’s a good fix. I’m up to Chapter 11. Chapter 10 will warrant another look tomorrow. . .

      This is how I do it, I guess. Edit as I go. Same as always.

      Sorry, Linnea, I just went off on my own little tangent there. Again, thank you for keeping me in your loop or vice versa. Always a pleasure, either way.

      xoxo kk

      • So it sounds like you have a system for attacking your revisions and that you’re happy to make them. Perfect.
        The first agent who made a similar request to me – let’s see it when you revise such and such – wasn’t a good fit for me. I realized that what she wanted to do with my book wasn’t a direction I wanted to take. The second agent, who represented me for a year, marketed it to the wrong editors, something I didn’t realize until he sent me copies of their letters. In the end, I sold it myself and worked with an editor who wanted revisions but also maintained the integrity of my original vision. That’s the key I think because you have to live with the results for the rest of that book’s publishing life. Naturally I’d love to snatch mine off the shelves and tinker with it some more but basically I’m pleased with the end result. The editor and I were a good fit and he wasn’t trying to make it ‘his’ book. But my story isn’t your story and I’m glad you have found an agent you want to work with. I hope I find one for my next book. Fingers crossed.

        • Thanks for sharing your story, Linnea. I know it isn’t mine, but our goals are similar. We want to preserve as much as our novels as we can, protect their integrity.

          I was thinking long and hard about the revisions the agent suggested, the parts she found problematic or not ringing quite true. I think I’d have a tougher time swallowing–let alone digesting–her suggestions, had I never heard them before. In the back of my mind, I was expecting to be changing some chapters, esp. if the powers that be told me, you know, CHANGE THOSE CHAPTERS.

          I decided to make references to the late Elmore Leonard past tense, so as not to date the novel. That’s going to take some creativity on my part, and a pretty big assumption: that I’ll be able to get permissions to quote some of his stuff. And I quote from STONE CITY, TRY, and the biggie: THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. Actually, that last one isn’t directly quoted; instead, Brandt imagines himself talking to Holden, esp. when he is sleep-deprived or semi-buzzed. I’ll cross those bridges when I come to them, I guess.

          Re: the ending. I thought it was so perfect, exactly what it needed to be. The agent said it didn’t have the impact I thought it did. Maybe she’s right. I don’t want to touch that ending but I can infuse the preceding chapters with something to give the ending more of a punch in the gut. I was working that today, writing a new chapter if you can believe that.

          Then there’s the [redacted]–the pivotal scene in there that I adamantly wanted to keep in. The agent disagrees. She explained her thoughts about that and I understand what she’s saying. It’s going to take some thought on my part. I’m not going to hurry this. I have to do it right. But if I make these revisions and the agent says no, something good still will have come from this. (NOTE TO SELF: Remember you said that, kk.) When I’m done revising, CHERRY won’t be a markedly different book, but it will be a better book. Maybe a lot better.

          My God, Linnea. What am I doing? Are you sprinkling pixie dust on this blog post? 🙂 Whatever you’re doing–and I’m referring to your own writing now–keep up the good work. I shall endeavor to do the same.

          xoxo kk

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