Making the Leap: Time to Change Manuscripts

My plan all summer long has been to get as far as I can on my new middle grade mystery and then set it aside when my editorial letter arrived for SUGAR ON SNOW, the figure skating novel that will be my second book with Walker Books for Young Readers.  I knew I’d need to make the switch this week, but it didn’t go exactly as I’d planned. 

My editor actually emailed me the editorial letter on Monday with a note saying that line edits would arrive on Tuesday.  I  wanted both before I started revising, so I was going to work one last morning on the middle grade mystery before the UPS guy arrived.  But when I sat down at my computer yesterday, I realized that something had happened — a switch had flipped from right to left in my brain Monday night when I read that emailed editorial letter.  It had transported me out of the world of the middle grade mystery, out of the world of stolen treasures and busy city airports and back to the maple farms and ice skating rinks of SUGAR ON SNOW.  I actually went and stood out front for a little while, willing the UPS guy to come early.  But he didn’t.

So I went for a long run instead.  About a mile from my house, there’s a community college in a big old building at the top of a hill overlooking Lake Champlain.  It is a very big hill, one that I hadn’t tackled on my morning run in well over a year, and I wasn’t sure I’d make it all the way to the top without stopping.  But somehow, trying seemed like a good idea yesterday.  All through the run, I thought about the issues that my editor had raised in her letter, the scenes she’d asked me to consider adding.  I came up with a perfect setting for one of those scenes, a conversation between my main character and her best friend from home.  And before I knew it, the ground leveled, and I was at the top of the hill.  I’d made it.  Because I kept my head down and kept moving, one step at a time.  Not a bad lesson at all to begin a revision day.

I stretched against the stone wall overlooking the lake, ran home, did some yoga on the deck, jumped into the lake in my running clothes, dried off, and picked the girl up from her art camp for lunch.  I was picking Japanese beetles off the aster plants out front when the UPS guy pulled up in his big brown truck. 

And I was ready for him.

Last night, during E’s skating lesson, I sat in the chilly sound booth and made my to-do list, marking the manuscript with ideas next to my editor’s comments, sticking Post-It notes where I could add those scenes she’d requested (I do love my Post-It notes), and making a list of little bits of research that I need to do.  Today, I’ll start on page one.  I promise a process-post later on for those who enjoy nitty-gritty revision details. But mostly…I’ll just be keeping my head down for the next few weeks, taking it one step at a time.

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