One simple fact is that the moment you become a “professional” writer you will have to deal with edits and revision notes on anything you produce. It doesn’t matter if it’s a freelance piece you got paid $10 to write or a novel that got you a six-digit advance, those edits are coming, and some of those edits are going to infuriate you.

You work with them anyway, of course. The rule of thumb with revisions and edits is pretty simple: You consider them all. You respond and revise with some, you respond and don’t revise to others, but you deal with them all. Because you’re not as smart as you think you are.

Me Write Novel Good

Writing professionally is almost always a collaborative process, unless you’re super famous and successful and can force editors to bow to your will. I am neither of those things, and so I must work with editors in both the fiction and freelance milieu. The irony for me is that one reason writing appeals to me as an artistic expression is the lack of collaboration; I can write an entire novel—nay, a series of novels—without ever discussing them in any way with another human being.

When I want someone to pay me for my writing, that’s when things get sticky, because of course the folks opening the purse strings expect some input and control over what they’re buying. Which I understand, but it still galls you, because the process goes like this

  1. Work on novel/freelance project/epic poem about cats for approximately 7,000 years, until it is honed to perfection
  2. Show around to Beta Readers or others, deal with contradictory feedback, like when half your betas love the unreliable narrator and half think it’s “been done.”
  3. Revise for another 5,000 years.
  4. Sell it! And promptly receive a 700-page edit letter detailing that your new editor loved your work so much they want you to re-write 50% of it.

It can be depressing. But the secret is, you don’t have to do all the requested changes. You just have to take them seriously. Responding with a thoughtful reason why you’re not going to delete the character based on the Great Gazoo is all that’s necessary. What you shouldn’t do is sulk and refuse to respond. Because the other thing I know is that no matter how painful the editing process has been on either fiction or freelance, in the end my work has been better for it.

The Too Long, Didn’t Read version: Suck it up, Silky Boy, and do your revs.

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