Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The joy of edits, the joy of cake

Let it be said before anything else: I am not one of nature's editors.  There are many, many authors who love the revision process, and who feel that it's where the book really starts to take shape.  As I said to someone last summer, editing isn't exciting because I already know how the book ends.  (I don't know all the details while I'm writing, because I'm not one of nature's plotters, either.  Seriously, you guys, this whole writing thing is a real high-wire act.) 

But, a funny thing's happened during my revisions of CODA, both last summer for my agent and this year for my editor.  Yes, it's still hard, and yes, I have to bribe myself with prodigious amounts of cake, but I've learned to appreciate the process a lot more than I used to.

Back in February, I got my first revision letter from my editor--the first for CODA, the first I'll ever get, no matter how many books I write.  It was maybe the coolest moment ever, and also the scariest.  I stewed on her thoughts, spoke to my former agent and my current one, and spoke Lisa the Excellent Editor herself.  I made notes and took long showers, during which I scribbled thoughts on the tiles with bath crayons.  I ate cake.  A lot of cake.  I spent three days paralyzed with fear over how to fix something and then suddenly remembered I'm not alone in this.  Another five minutes on the phone with Lisa fixed the problem, and we spent another few talking about…cake.

All that leads me into my best editing tip: for all the times we call it an "editing cave," that cave is a better place when you throw a party in it.  Agents, editors, your beta readers and critique partners who probably thought their job was over are all invited.  Check out the cool paintings on the wall and ask them for help.  Listen when they say you can do this.

Think.  Make notes.  And then get to work.  Because there's this magic point, even for people like me who don't salivate over the idea of editing, when the book becomes not just the book you wanted it to be all along, but even better than that. 

Dudes, that is a cool moment.  I felt like a really real writer with an actual book.  It's work but that's okay, because the whole process, now including editing, is work I love and OMG someone's giving me the chance to do what I love as a job.  We're the luckiest people on earth, and that's not an exaggeration. 

I got my second round of edits about two weeks ago, and I'm cheerfully in the middle of them now.  Probably the only people happier than I am are my local suppliers of decent cake.


Emma Trevayne is the author of CODA, a YA cyberpunk novel about an evil corporation who use music as an auditory drug to subdue a futuristic society, out Spring 2013 from Running Press Kids.  She can be found on her blog, on Goodreads, or on Twitter.


  1. Excellent, so what you're saying is ... I just need to eat more cake. Perfect. I can handle that. :) Thanks for your perspective.

  2. Absolutely love this. Great advice (cake as a reward? A total win) -- about not being in this thing alone. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I feel like we have similar approaches to edits/plotting. I too am not a natural at either of those!! Rough drafting is definitely my favorite, but I'm learning to appreciate all sides of the process for sure.

  4. I love that after getting your first round of edits under your belt you are so excited about how the book is taking it's final shape! And writing is the best job ever for sure!!!

  5. Clearly, cake is my problem. Will rectify this immediately.

    Thanks for the great post.