My mind was reeling in overload mode and I don't remember my mumbled reply. It was probably something like, "I just hope I can fix everything and get my book the best it can be."
Her final comment was, "We believe in you, Jody. We think you're capable of making the changes. Call me anytime you need to discuss anything further."
As I hung up the phone, I took a deep shuddering breath and pressed my knuckles against my forehead. "Oh, Lord. Oh, Lord. Wow. I want to cry!"
A deluge of doubt and despair pounded upon me. I slumped down in front of my laptop. Through my threatening tears, the pages of my notes blurred together in a disorderly mess of scribbles.
Even though I'd braced myself for the difficulty of the rewriting process, I was completely unaware at how inadequate I'd feel when I finally got the edits.
The dark thoughts came swiftly and suddenly. Why had Bethany House contracted me in the first place? I just knew they were regretting their decision, but now it was too late to back out of our contract. In fact maybe they'd chosen me because they like my agent and just wanted to make her happy.
They surely hadn't contracted me because of my skill. Not with so many things wrong with my book. Even if my editor had complimented me on a number of positive things, maybe she'd just said those things to be nice, to make the hard things easier to swallow.
I'm baring everything today. . . yes, those were really my thoughts in the initial hours after I got my rewrites. When my husband walked in the door after work, he rushed the kids out of the house and took them to Burger King for dinner. He gave me the gift of blessed silence. I could wallow to my heart's content and try to make sense of what I'd gotten myself into.
Was I really cut out to be an author? Was I capable of doing what they wanted me to do? I just didn't know.
At that particular moment of self-despair, one of my blogging friends, Jill Kemerer emailed me. In my response I told her about getting my rewrites and I shared my doubts. Here's her response:
Don't despair!! This is normal!! My published writer friends all had pages and pages of revision requests, and guess what? They all have books on the shelves. It's okay! Don't forget--you're a very talented writer. Rachelle Gardner decided to represent you and she has thousands of queries every year. She does not take on many clients. And Bethany House loved this book enough to buy it.
Her email brought fresh tears to my eyes. Thanks Jill! And thanks to everyone else, too, for your words of encouragement! I can't tell you how much I needed it!
But I also needed my agent to step in and give me a firm, but loving shake. When I bemoaned my rewrite experience to her, she gave me the no-nonsense feedback that we all love so much about her blog. Here's what Rachelle said:
I know you'll survive the editorial process. It's hard but I know you can do it. Let me know if there's any way I can help you specifically. I have authors whose novels haven't sold yet and I'm putting them through their editorial paces. I always say, "Be glad you're not experiencing the revision process for the first time while under contract and deadline!" But for you I say, "Be glad you have a contract, and get to work!"
I'm not very far into my rewrite process yet. But I'm realizing that maybe things aren't quite as bad as they first seemed--maybe I'm not such a horrible writer after all. I'm organizing my thoughts for the changes, and I'm starting to feel more hopeful.
And most importantly, I'm trying to remind myself of the blessings. I need to remember how far I've already journeyed and how much God has blessed my efforts over the past six months.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed with doubts about your writing ability? How do you keep the negatives of the writing journey from discouraging you? Do you remember to count your blessings? If so, I'd love to hear some of them!