A few weeks ago I received a rejection email with a twist. On this occasion I was fortunate enough to have the editor come back to me with my story marked, suggesting that if I make some changes he would reconsider the submission. I was blown away by this opportunity, as I know how rare it is to get a second chance when it comes to submissions!
I went back to him asking for a latest date that he would expect me to return the altered manuscript, stating that I knew that this was no guarantee that I would make it into the anthology even after the edits, and thanking him for the opportunity to try again. He then wrote back to me thanking me for my response to his suggestions, stating that not all writers take the offer of edits quite so well.
This struck me as crazy! Here was a professional, who whilst considering my story had made edits in track changes, without me paying him a thing, and had offered me a second chance at publication if only I follow his advice. For a story that I wrote for his anthology. Who in their right mind wouldn’t snap his hand off, I wondered?! I mean, I know that your own writing is precious, and that having someone turn around asking for changes is like someone saying your baby would be cute if only it had brown eyes and curly hair. But I know I would have had to have paid a fortune sending it off to an editing company for the same pleasure. And his suggestions were completely valid: There was too much description before the action began. There were too many characters for a short story, and some of them had to go. I did need to ramp up the connection between the two main characters, and – damnit – the ending would be better if the narrator actually made it to safety!!
So I sat down to work through the changes, taking each point and scrutinising how to make the edits successful without losing my voice and my original intentions. Sometimes it’s difficult to take criticism, but thankfully this editor made both positive and negative comments with a considered, encouraging tone. I’ve received other edits by more brutal readers in the past, and this was a cake-walk in terms of bruised ego aftereffects! I was dreading making the edits, because I do hate editing. But this was kind of a fun experience, much to my surprise. I learned more from his suggestions that I ever have from courses or classes. I am grateful to him, and glad I learned a while ago to keep an open mind and listen to the experts (probably the most difficult but most important step in my writing career).
All I can say is, no matter how much it hurts, if someone offers you the chance to make edits to improve your story to their publishing standard, don’t let your pride get in the way. You’ll become a better writer from it. Fast-forward a month and I’ve made it into the publication! I am over the moon about it and can’t wait to see the book published. So, here’s to second chances, and expert advice.