In an extended email exchange with my editor, she wrote, “We can discuss Giraffe People in NOLA.”
(Giraffe People is my third manuscript. NOLA is New Orleans, where we will be attending Saints & Sinners Literary Festival together. Now you know as much as I did.)
“Does that mean you’ve finished it?” I wrote.
“Almost. Why? Do you have another draft I should be reading instead?”
Now, at this point, the writer has to laugh. This exchange contains no exclamation points. No gush. No ego petting. She’s almost done. We’ll discuss it in New Orleans.
It takes a great deal of practice to hear criticism about your work and filter out the good advice from the personal preference. I trust my editor implicitly. But she is not a punch puller. If she hates something, she will tell me she hates it. As in, “I hate the first 50 pages of Field Guide. They’re boring.” She might not actually have said hate. But it felt like she said hate.
Or, my personal favorite, “This is not up to your usual standard.”
I haven’t been writing since the fall. Blogging, yes, fiction, not so much. And now I’m glad, because I don’t have to empty a story from my head to re-approach Giraffe People. I can return to it with months of perspective, and the sanguine determination to butcher my darlings.