I want to start off by saying that our editor is amazing. I had no idea what that expect from a professional editor and was really nervous about getting his comments back. How different would it be from what we sent in? What kind of comments would he make? Would he hate it? Would he want us to change major things that would alter our original vision of the story? Would it beyond hope?
These are all the things I was worried about when the email first came in. I was sitting at my desk at my day job when I saw the notification that I had a new email on my phone. My heart started to pound and my hands were sweating so badly I almost dropped my poor little smart-phone when I saw his name as the sender. I took a deep breath and opened the email.
His comments in the email were both honest and encouraging. He acknowledged a couple of issues he had had as an overall narrative and assured us that it had potential. Now for the hardest part, I had to wait until I got home from work to see the markups (Called redlines in my business life). I could have downloaded the file there at work, signed out for a break and looked right there, but a networked computer is not where I wanted to look at this. This was not something I needed system support looking through later when they got the report that I had downloaded a file. Privacy is not a thing in corporate America and this is a very private thing right now. I still had no idea what the changes were going to be.
I could barely focus the rest of the day. I cancelled my evening plans and hurried home as soon as I could get off work without making people think I had lost my mind. How bad is it? How bad is it? That was all I could think on my way home. I wanted to dream that the comments were minimal and that it was clean and sparkly as a polished diamond, but frankly even I cannot be that delusional, not even in a day dream.
My hands were shaking and I felt vaguely sick to my stomach when I finally got to sit down and open the file. Yes, there was a lot of red, yes there were comments (Changes tracking is an awesome thing!), but I surprised myself. I did not feel that defensiveness I was afraid I would feel. I was not angry, I was not upset, I felt gratitude. I was grateful that he had taken the time and expended the effort to make these changes and comments. I owed it to him to take them seriously and try to address any concerns he had with care.
I work in an engineering field as my day job and I get comments and questions from jurisdictions and engineers all over the country about my work. I am used to criticism and being told what I did wrong, but the art of constructive criticism is all but dead in this world. That is not the case with our editor. His comments, questions, and corrections are all handled in a way that allows us to learn how to do better next time. It is not just telling us we did it wrong, but also explaining why it was wrong and how to correct it. This took a lot of extra time and effort on his part and we are both very grateful that he did.
We still have some work to do on the manuscript before we return it to him for final edits, but I feel better about it now. We can do this.