One day they are suckling at the nipple of your opening chapters and then, before you know it, your little manuscript is all grown up and running out the door, into the critical embrace of the editor.
It was the same for your eldest, Book 1, and also for Book 2 and Book 3, but you are never as prepared for this moment as you think. You smile to yourself through welling tears, remembering its first word: Prologue.
You relish the memory, but must return to the present. What do you say, what wisdom can you impart as they turn to face you one more time? Look upon it well. It will never return the same. The time you never think will happen is upon you.
“Go,” you say, your voice cracking. “Be careful. Stay true to your plot, to the storyline I passed on to you. Look after your characters for they are your family now. Oh, and always track changes. And don’t forget to save every few minutes. Always back up at the end of the day and floss before you go to sleep.”
For a fleeting moment the young manuscript stares up at you, revealing its understanding of the gravity of this sacred moment. Wordlessly, it asks if this is the right time.
You stroke its spine, muss its pages and sigh. “She’s a good editor. She cares about you and she will make you a better manuscript. You will feel lighter, tighter, and ready to face the readers who will pore over your every word.”
And the manuscript gulps and nods, not because it believes you, but because it trusts you. You brought it into the world, typed its first words, worried over its development and story arc. When it was sick or faltered, you were beside it, cutting and pasting, making the necessary changes so that it could one day fulfill its destiny.
And then it turns to go, now only an attachment. You type in the editor’s email address and click the button you always dreaded: Send.
Now you sit and stare at the blank screen, swallow hard and wonder what to do with your time. You have no choice. Be strong. This is a circle of life thing. Your fingers hover over the keyboard. The computer holds its breath. And then you type:
Book Five: Prologue…
Dedicated to my editor, Monica Buntin, and all who are brave enough to edit author’s books and lives!
Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, The First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+