A post I stumbled on today in the INTERN’s archives:
I found this the very day I sent my newest just-finished twice-revised (so far) WIP to a handful of readers.
Here they are (summarized — go read the real thing because it’s funny!):
Stage 1: Anticipation — the critique is back from the readers! Oh yes!
Stage 2: Dread — Wait, what if my critiquers thought my ms was a “cheesy overwritten trainwreck?”
Stage 3: Elation — The first paragraph of the critique contains words like “brilliant”! Yay!
Stage 4: Dread — whoops! The rest of the critique contains words like “confusing”.
Stage 5: Panic
Stage 6: Paralysis
Stage 7: Avoidance
Stage 8: Re-dedication
Stage 9: Grim determination
Stage 10: Surprise — When you realize your ms is actually getting better!
Stage 11: Second guessing — Is this feeling of “great betterness” all in your head?
Maybe you’re actually making things worse?
Stage 12: Wonder — You realize the feeling of betterness is based on reality after all
Stage 13: Dread — send ms out again, wonder if it really is no kidding better.
Stage 14: Elation — get it back again and LO! EVERYONE AGREES IT IS GREAT!
I’d say this is actually pretty darn accurate. With luck there are relatively few words like “confusing” and the stage of grim determination is relatively short, but yep. The INTERN pegged it.
BTW, I think agents and editors take a special class in letting authors down gently. Because that first paragraph of their critiques does indeed always contain words like “brilliant” and “loved it” and “love your writing” and “such a beautiful job” and “only a few tiny changes”. Which, yes, I do re-read those paragraphs multiple times and I believe every word, too. Praise is indeed an excellent motivator.
THEN they tell you which bits are confusing, repetitive, slow, etc. Which, with luck, really ARE pretty tiny. Though I guess that’s not actually a matter of luck.
Least amount of time it’s ever taken me to do a revision: about four days.
Greatest? About two months (I wasn’t feeling enthusiastic and there wasn’t a looming deadline and it was a pretty extensive revision.)
Number of times the editor thought the book was perfect and made such trivial suggestions they all got dealt with at the copy-editing stage: one. So it does happen! But this was after revising according to my agent’s suggestions.
Most appreciated suggestions: those tiny picky very specific changes the editor suggests after you have already revised? I always like those. I really appreciate a perfectionist attitude in my editor!