Wednesday, September 26, 2012

4 WOW Wednesday: Janci Patterson

Today's WOW guest is Janci Patterson, whose first novel, CHASING THE SKIP, debuts on October 2nd, 2012 from Henry Holt. Janci lives in Orem, Utah, with her husband and daughter. When she's not writing, she manages her husband's painting business and plays geek games of all kinds. You can catch her on Facebook, on Twitter as @jancipatterson, or on her website, jancipatterson.com.

Discovering the Book

by Janci Patterson

For me, like most people, the process of getting my first book to publication was a slow one. I started writing novels back in 2000, and by the time I sold my first book in 2010 I had written six other failed novels and racked up over a hundred rejections. When I finally sold a book (!) it took eight months for us to sign the contract and a year and a half before I saw an editorial letter. Two years later, I was finally wrapping up work on the book. I was about to finally be done (done!), touching my book in an editorial way for the very last time.

I expected the final copyedit for CHASING THE SKIP to feel like a chore. I'd been over the book so many times. Fiddling with grammar is not my favorite part of writing. But it had to be done, so when I received the pages in the mail from my editor, I dutifully pulled out a pencil and opened them up, expecting the process to be more or less routine.

What I found inside was both something I expected, and something completely unexpected. The book was printed on regular manuscript paper, but it had already gone through layout, so the pages looked like they would eventually look in book form. This meant that someone else had gone through my book and laid out the words, made and applied chapter heading graphics, applied fonts, and generally spent a lot of time turning my manuscript words into soon-to-be published book words.

I knew they would do that, of course. The surprising part to me was the impact looking at those words had on me. This represented the very first time in my life that someone else had actually touched the words in my book. I'd been getting feedback and notes from agents and editors and beta readers for years, but I was always the one to make the changes. And here, someone else had carefully thought about what particular design would present my words best, and then gone about laying the whole thing out to look like a real and proper book. And (perhaps because they'd done such a beautiful job of it) I felt giddy just looking over it. I'd been worried I might feel protective of my words, and have a hard time letting go. But instead, I just felt thrilled to be working as part of a team--a team whose goal it was to get my words ready to be read.

And then. I did the copy edit. I made some changes with my dutiful pencil. But more than that, because the thing looked more like a book than a manuscript now, I was able to actually read my book for the first time ever. Of course I'd been over every word of the thing many times before. But as a writer, I'll never get to read my book the way my readers will. The story still lives too much in my head, so I'll never be able to look at the words on the page and form a new picture the way another person can. My picture will always be colored by the ideas already in my head. But that read through, with my shiny new book that someone else had done visible work on, I got as close as I ever expect to get. And I discovered something very important to me: I like this book. I'm excited that I get to share it with as many readers as will give it a chance. I'm proud of my work, and impressed with the work other people did as well. Writing a novel is a long series of tasks and many of them are unpleasant. And I never expected to say this, but the truth is, that copyedit was my favorite part.


4 comments:

  1. "But as a writer, I'll never get to read my book the way my readers will. The story still lives too much in my head, so I'll never be able to look at the words on the page and form a new picture the way another person can."

    Beautiful post. Thank you.

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  2. Awesome that you enjoyed the process. Good luck with your book Janci.

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  3. Hearing your story is so inspiring. Writing a novel is hard, and I can't even imagine what it feels like doing a copyedit for publication. Congratulations on how far you have come, that is fabulous. And thank you for sharing the joy of what you have accomplished, it gives me hope to keep working on my writing as well.
    Thank you :)

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  4. I loved reading this! Thanks much. It's incredible how slowly things went (years, argh), but in the end--you now have a book! Congrats, and best wishes for your book!

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