I recently got my 1P from my publisher. When Emma (my editor’s lovely editorial assistant) sent me the email to tell me it was on its way, I was super excited. Yay! My 1P. I love getting treats in the mail from my publisher. Then I had to email her back to ask her what the heck a 1P was. She was very gracious in her explanation, attributing my ignorance to publishing house jargon.
So, for those of you who, like me, are new to the Biz, 1P=1st pass, which is your manuscript laid out as it will appear in book form minus the binding, somewhere after copyediting but before ARCs. (ARC=Advanced Readers’ Copies, formerly known as galleys.)
Seeing the 1P that will someday soon be my book is pretty awesome. My initial thoughts were:
1. Wow, this is a big, heavy package. I wonder how much it cost to ship it.
2. I can’t believe they made 288 pages out of this thing. Trees, I’m sorry.
3. Nice fonts!
4. Ack, my acknowledgements. I forgot someone! *hurriedly adds her in.*
5. So, I guess this means this whole book thing is really happening.
Then I got to work with all the technical changes, which began with a first read for typos (there weren’t many). Then I passed my 1P to the two ladies in my critique group, who furthered the inspection with other suggestions for word changes, transposing sentence order, and sharpening up the dialogue. Little stuff, right?
By the time we were through, I’d flagged nearly every page. I sent it back to Emma (on deadline) and crossed my fingers the changes weren’t too extensive, which brings me to the point of this post.
When is it ever good enough?
This response varies highly with the individual, but for me, the answer is August 14, 2012. That’d be my pub date, or publication date. Because if I had my way, I’d be scrutinizing every line until then, deleting words only to re-add them. This is not even to say that my writing is exceptionally pretty, I can obsess over whether to use the word “cool” or “fresh” in describing a leaf of lettuce. After 5 years and 5+ rewrites (not revisions, but rewrites), it’s still not perfect, but I can say with all honesty that I did the best I could.
Still, there is something deeply unsettling about The End.
But, while publication is a small death, it is also the birth of the book that will go on to a life of its own outside of the writer’s small sphere of control. Exciting? Yes. Nauseating? Most def.
But I have a coping mechanism. I learned it from my time on the boat when I was plagued by motion sickness (vomit, stumble, vomit, stumble…) Here is the advice the boat’s captain gave me: sit outside in the fresh air, take deep breaths and keep your eyes on the horizon.
So, when navigating an ocean that is one day turbulent and the next day, dead calm, I’m doing just that–taking deep breaths and keeping my eyes on the horizon.