Thursday, May 7, 2009

DSN Update

When last we saw our intrepid author, she was feeling quite proud of having conquered the DSN (Dreaded Second Novel), finally sending it off to Miz Editor. Three weeks whizzed by while our heroine dined on baba ghanoush, learned a few Arabic phrases and played -- badly -- at being Lawrence of Arabia on camel back.

I thought editors were busy people. Mine evidently does not have enough to do (Mr. Random House: take note) because upon my arrival home I found a 7-page singled space editorial letter. I thought editors were supposed to take forever to get back to authors! I thought one of "our" days equaled one of "their" months. . .or years. In three weeks time, I'd barely had time to celebrate my climb up the Kilamanjaro of my writing career.

A 7-page single-spaced editorial letter is never easy to process, especially when jet-lagged. I caught up on sleep and laundry and caffeine intake then got out the old highlighter and tackled that hefty tome. Here is what emerged in undeniable bright pink: the very things that troubled me about the story also troubled my editor. I wasn't fooling anybody. Further, though I had finally completed the manuscript, I clearly hadn't finished the story.

And here's the weird thing: I felt okay about that. In fact, great! Sure this means a major, major, major rewrite, going in quite a different direction (one I'm happy about at this moment; check back later). But as I've learned from recent personal experience, camel riding isn't my style. And the story I was trying to write wasn't quite my style either.

So I'm mounting up a tamer beast -- perhaps the snail Allyson sent me -- to take a more thoughtful journey to the heart of this story. And I will no longer label it DSN -- because that beast has been conquered.

Though I am being brave and hopeful, standing at the bottom once again, I sure could use some help. Any tips for diving into a major rewrite, any particularly inspirational thoughts, any words of comfort or commiseration would be most appreciated!


  1. Welcome home!
    How exciting that you are in this next step of writing this story!
    I don't have tips, just fellowship. I'm about to launch into my own major revision and I haven't figured out what the first step is. Usually, I like to tackle one small do-able thing first, but I haven't yet figured out what that is! Everything seems pretty big at this point!

  2. You can do it, Kirby. That's all I know.

  3. A belated welcome home, Kirby. Sounds like you had a fantastic trip, in spite of the camel mishap. (Your poor arm!)

    When faced with a major rewrite I try to give myself a day or two (see my post about retail therapy) to let the comments soak in--and, quite honestly, to lick my wounds. (Couldn't the editor see that the story was perfect the way it was? Well, sort of perfect...) Sometimes I find it helps to do the "easy" changes first, then go back for later for the hard changes--the ones that you know will take more time. Hugs. I know you'll do an amazing job!

  4. Oh, goodie. I've been waiting for just the right time to share advise I received from the Queen of Writers: Jane Yolen. When I was whining about a similar problem on a message board not long ago, she wrote:

    "Just do it. You can. You have. And you will."

  5. I had a 7-pager and felt like I got off easy. Of course, that's after I saw one from our friend Janet that was 12! Best wishes with your revision!