While I am never happy when an editor asks me to rewrite a story, I have learned that if I can quell my bad attitude for a smidgen of time, the end result will be a better manuscript.
A few years ago, an editor asked me to flip a Christmas themed story centered on gift giving to fit with a February issue of the magazine. The story was titled “The Gingerbread Shop”. I thought she was insane. Then I decided she was mean. Then I was just really mad. How do you take what is clearly a December Christmas story and rework it to fit in a February issue?
The request to revise always leaves me feeling defeated. By the time I submit a manuscript, I have already revised a bajillion times, had it critiqued, rewritten it again and fallen madly in love with my brilliant work. I send it off to the editor or agent like a perfect present. Asking me to rewrite it is like someone returning a gift I bought them. Only worse, they are asking me to return it and get them something else - something better. How rude!
Grumble, grumble, curse and spit.
I came dangerously close to refusing to rewrite my gingerbread story. Instead, I took a few days to stomp around my house, complained to my writing buddies, derided the absurdity of the editor’s request, BUT I sent my editor an email reply that read, “Of course, I’d be happy to revise my story.”
After venting and still unconvinced that any revision could improve on my perfect pearl, I reluctantly mustered the will to sit down and give the rewrite a try. The result was a better story, a more unique manuscript and a piece I was more proud to present. The revised story sold as “Dolphin Queen Valentine” and it never would have happened without the request to rewrite.
Just last month, I was asked to revise a manuscript and I have my routine down. I curse, stomp around my house with a scowling face that leaves with me with a self- inflicted unibrow, and I send the editor an email that says, “Of course, I’d be happy to rewrite”.
When I finish the revision,my unibrow disappears in happy haze of contentment and the recognition that the request to rewrite was the perfect present.