Sometimes, things just seem to come together.
I am preparing to submit my book The Patent Desk to agents and editors. The folks to whom I’ll be sending it have varied submissions requirements but mostly, they want to see a synopsis and first fifty pages. So, off I sent the fateful fifty for review by Corbin, the developmental editor with whom I’m working.
I received her edited, comment-strewn version back the other day and planned a four day weekend to make a (final?) pass before beginning submissions. But I glanced through her cuts night before last and I have to say, I was appalled at the very first cut she made.
Doesn’t she understand, I asked my inner self, that this paragraph is essential, that it establishes Max’s love for his craft? That he is lost in the rhythm and timbre of the work? How can she say this paragraph is confusing and too long?
I didn’t read further, steeling myself for what promised to be a teeth clenching, head shaking session of disagreement with my editor, a battle royale to preserve the integrity of my magnificent prose. The voices of my internal Greek chorus shouted their dismay. How could this heretofore brilliant editor fail to understand how rich, how necessary was each and every one of those golden words?
Then, yesterday, I listened to a couple of TED talks while I ate my lunch. Andrew Stanton was talking about movie making and he said this:
(The opening) makes a promise that this story will lead somewhere that’s worth your time.
His words made me stop and think. I rewound and listened again and then, again. And I wrote them down to share with you here.
This morning, I returned to Corbin’s edit but I disabled the review function so that I would not be distracted by angst about what she had cut or reordered. And I read what was left behind. And what I read was a promise of something to follow that would be worth the reader’s time and attention. And then I read her comments but still not the cuts and I saw her love of writing come through. My writing.
My words are there, but fewer of them. The best ones.
For anyone who wonders at the true meaning of serendipity, seems to me this is it. As I sat unwrapping my sandwich and TED surfing I wasn’t looking for that quote or even for Stanton, and certainly was not looking for advice that would help me past my writer’s ego. But there it was.
The voices in my head are still arguing, one faction saying read and accept and the other side asking what other gems the evil Corbin might have cruelly excised.
I’m leaning toward read and accept. Turns out, Corbin knows a thing or two. And I have a new personal definition of serendipity.