I looked at the date on the first draft. March 18, 2009. It's been a long, long time. Some of that is because I'm obsessive about rewrites. But most of that is because a great deal has happened in my life since then. So, it's all the more exciting to see it getting so close to being a reality.
Being a theatrical creature, I'm used to creating in a collaborative way--there are actors, designers, technicians--all kinds of people with whom you can talk and discuss. You bounce ideas off each other and there is a potent synergy created.
Writing a book is much, much different. It is done in isolation. I have a wonderful critique group who read it and give feedback as I go, and my kids are very good at this, too. But it's not the same. As an introvert, part of this is wonderful. But it's also odd after years of theatre work, and it is a little scary. What if you think something is really funny or suspenseful or cool--and then readers find it lame?
So, there are two relationships that come to be very meaningful to an author. First of all is the cover designer. Covers sell books. People do judge a book by its cover. And so an author is extremely dependent on the designer to make his words into something that will hopefully entice a reader, something the author can be proud of. I've blogged before about the wonderful designer who did my cover. I've been so grateful for her good work.
I haven't talked, however, about the editor. Gosh, I love my editor! I already trusted Melissa because we worked on my first book. I felt that she was sensitive to my voice and my words, but also brought a clear head and sharp eye.
One of the best things an editor can do for an author is take out the parts that are lame. The parts that don't work, find the mistakes and so on. I've heard horror stories from other authors about editors who were overly harsh and prescriptive. I've heard horror stories about the other side of things as well, editors who didn't make any suggestions or changes, who really didn't seem to care about the book.
So, I'm grateful for my editor, who walked that line well, I think. Who seemed to care about the book and wanted it to work, who was open to my suggestions and thoughts and also had a firm hand when the prose needed it. She was generous with the changes she allowed me to make, and was also very patient with my appalling and persistent misuse of commas.
It is a cliche to refer to a book as your child. But it's a cliche because it's true and accurate and so people use it all the time. So, today, as my baby is shipped off to the printers, I want to take a moment and thank the literary OB/GYN/Midwife.