Who’s afraid of the big bad edits?

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.


News of all kinds

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks. The day after I wrote my last post, where the dog and I had taken a trip to the orchard and it had inspired me to write a poem, Shadow collapsed and had to be put to sleep. It has been strange here ever since. If I could describe how we were with each other, I’d say that when we were together we would constantly look to each other. When we were apart, I would constantly look forward to seeing him. He was just a constant. To not have that now is the hardest thing, because there are habits that grow with love that you don’t even know are there. Each time I face a new automatic habit and then remind myself that he isn’t there it’s heartbreaking. But, looking back at our photos and videos together, I know he was happy right to the end, and that is the most reassuring thing of all. He was a rescue dog, and taking him from the shelter five years ago was the best thing I ever did. I would encourage anyone who is considering getting a pet to please go to your local rescue shelter first and foremost. We couldn’t have had a better fit in our lives, even if we’d raised him ourselves.

In terms of writing, I have never been the type of writer who thrives in dark times. In fact, my muse tends to dry up completely. It was a huge effort to complete the poem, ‘The Tree That Ate the Children’, the week after Shaddy passed, and I managed to just meet the deadline for submission. I don’t know if it’s any good, but it was finished and submitted, and that was enough that week. I’m pleased to say I managed to write yesterday. There are a number of exciting horror submission calls for the end of July/start of August, and I really hope I can come up with some good gory tales!

One word of warning that I learned myself this week – final deadline dates don’t always stay the same. I’ve known them to be pushed to a later date before, but never cut off a few weeks early due to popularity! This has happened with Dragon’s Roost’s ‘Monsters in Space’ anthology. It was such a great brief and I am happy to hear that they have had a successful submission response. But I am definitely sad that I didn’t get a shot at taking part! Still, it has taught me a new writing lesson, which I’ll try to bear in mind in future: Submit early if you can. I always tend to plan my submissions based on final date. I really need to revise that method in future!

Finally, the truly wonderful news this week. I submitted to SNAFU’s Last Stand sub call last month, after reading the brief and falling in love with the concept. The fact that Tim Miller is providing the introduction really is the icing on the cake. To appear in the anthology that features the director of Deadpool would truly be a life-affirming moment in my writing. Not to mention the fact that my hubby rocks around in a Deadpool dressing gown in the evenings, and that we used to have a hamster called D-Piddy in honour of the merc with a mouth. Tim Miller aside, the anthology itself looks to be incredibly special, not surprising since it’s coming from Cohesion Press. On Saturday I received an email saying my story had made it to final deliberations! After such a difficult couple of weeks this news was well received to say the least. I don’t know if I’ll make the final cut, obviously, but it is a huge boost to know the dream is in touching distance. Here’s to dreams coming true, even in the worst weeks!