What: Day 4 of 31 showcasing #CODAL, my 400 page YA fantasy with black female protagonist. For further details, check out the hashtag #CODAL31DayChallenge
Reflection: Let’s talk fear and its close cousin rejection.
Day 4 – Manuscript Critique
My writing mentor is a wonderful person I go to for talking off the ledge – because let’s be honest, I’ve found myself there often. An editor she worked with in a former publishing life had recently entered the world of freelance. Said editor offered to read my manuscript and provide insight. Score! I was ALL about that. An industry professional with years of experience? I took him up on the offer.
After inbox stalking for what felt like years, my manuscript returned one fateful day in January 2016, comments proudly tattooing its margins.
I tore into those suggestions and digested the editors words, pouring over them a second and third time until I knew backwards and forwards just how terrible my manuscript was. Yes! Tell me all the things I’ve done wrong.
Then something shifted. I’ve waged a personal war against depression and panic disorder since high school, and around this time depression nearly took me out. I’d imbibed all these poisonous editorial suggestions and was numb. My manuscript no longer held the spark that once fluttered my stomach every time I thought of it.
New and improved was my manuscript — and I hated it, hated the thing it’d become. Every time I sat down to work I died a little more, until 18 months later I was stepping over the threshold of breakdown and burn out, sobbing to my therapist about the death of my writing dreams.
I willingly allowed someone to poison me and my story. My quiet doubts and fears, my anxiety and panic, they’d found in this editor a willing co-signer. My fears about the quality of my work led me to seek out rejection and mask it as “help”. And I suffered greatly. It’s taken just as long to get back to the story I love, to the writer I was before an editor dabbling in freelance work tore my manuscript apart.
Sometimes fighting for yourself means fighting for the integrity of your art. The edits I formerly incorporated made for a story. Just not my story.