Adventures in line edits, part 2: Learning to own my book

So... in case you didn't know, I'm a bit of a people-pleaser, especially when it comes to authority figures. I hate disappointing people, and I HATE upsetting my boss. And for a while there, in my head, the equation went like this.

Editor = Boss.

Which meant I wanted to do everything in my power to make my editor happy. There were a list of things I knew I was willing to fight for (and we'd already discussed them) but everything else was negotiable and I put enormous pressure on myself to do it right.

So when the second round of line edits showed up and there were things that I had tried to fix that still needed tweaking, and my editor started making small suggestions I wasn't comfortable with or didn't know what to do with, I had a meltdown.

found at izit.org
OMG I'M A FAILURE AND I CAN'T DO IT AND MY EDITOR IS ASKING THE IMPOSSIBLE AND EVERYTHING IS HORRID AAAHHHHHHH!

It had nothing to do with my editor, of course. She was very clear that her suggestions were only suggestions and she was always happy to discuss things we both felt strongly about. (She's much better at this communication thing than I am) No, this was all about me and my own over-pressured brain.

So when I absolutely couldn't take it anymore, I called my agent, who told me something I had never really considered.
"This is your book. No one can make you do anything, and everyone already loves it. You're not going to ruin it."
I needed to hear that. It took the pressure off. And it gave me enough confidence to engage with my editor on things I wasn't sure I agreed with her about. I still ended up taking most of her suggestions because she's super-smart, but it helped so much to know that if I really wanted to, I could say no.

found at icanhascheezburger.com


There's a lot of talk going around about how editors "make you change your book" and authors worrying about their creative vision being stomped on.

But the reality is that it's ultimately YOUR book. The editor has a perspective that you may not have, and they want the same thing you want--to make the best book possible--but at the end, no one is going to make you change anything you don't want to change.  You're collaborators and partners, not employer/employee.

In the end, it was still my book. And I had to learn to own it.

Do you ever put unnecessary pressure on yourself?

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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.