Wednesday, September 7, 2011

first draft

I have spent the past three weeks applying my editor's feedback and changes to the first draft of the manuscript of my first cookbook. Every day, I sit at my kitchen table with a seemingly bottomless mug of black coffee (which I continue to drink as it turns cold, until I eventually realize that I am nursing old, cold coffee), agonizing over each sentence, as if it alone has the potential to either make or break the book's reception. To my left, I have a stack of notes from my editor and publisher, which I am slowly working through. To my right, my own notes, and those of the two writer friends I allowed to see the very rough first draft.

I tell myself that I've already done most of the work, that this is simply a matter of making a few adjustments; and, truthfully, most of the notes are fairly positive (and those which are negative are written in a constructive way). Still, it can be overwhelming to look at a long list of someone else's proposed changes to something I created and know that I need to attempt to incorporate all of them.

There's also something about spending every day thinking about all the things I did wrong the first time--everything that needs changing. Days turn into nights. Manuscript edits turn into personality flaws. Suddenly all thoughts lead to errors, flubs and structural problems, both in print and in person. It begins to feel like maybe my placement of the dessert chapter or the lack of biographical information I provide in the introduction are the least of my problems.

While the sheer amount can be overwhelming to think about, I am not defensive about edits to my book. I know my editor and publisher are on my side--they want the book to sell as much, if not more, than I do. My internal critic, on the other hand, is not as kind. She doesn't care about phrasing things constructively and loses sight of even the most immediate goals.

Yet another thing I need to edit.


Anonymous said...

You know, Gabi, putting things in your first draft didn't make them initially "right" and now because they are subject to editing does not make them suddenly "wrong." It could be that some other style might make them more clear, or perhaps your editor hears another voice or has different expectation. Right and wrong, black and white, good and bad are all concepts that get us into trouble. On the spectrum, you are terrific and your book will be terrific too.

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