Every writer has been there. At least every writer that’s ever suffered though a project for a considerable amount of time. You spiff and you clean up and you nip and tuck, finally whipping your ms. into shape (or what you think is in shape), and find out it has to be edited and and cut and tweaked some more. You think that when you finally reach the point of being published, multiple times even, that you actually know what you’re doing. That you know how to pluck out the perfect word, how to weave an effective turn of phrase, have the craft of goal, motivation, and conflict down to a science, skilled in creating realistic and interesting characters, that when you’re ready to send something out into the world, the world will be holding open its arms. So what to do when instead of a hearty hello, you’re gifted with a cut direct?
Now, I’m not talking about a rejection from a publisher. That’s a whole different level of angst. What I’m talking about is the next level up, the gatekeepers, so to speak. The ones who stand between you and the ones who cut the royalty checks. Think of them as the filter in your air cleaner, the spaghetti strainers, the iron that flattens the wrinkles from your shirt. We have them in all levels of writing: from the beta reader to the agent to the editor. They’re the ones who hold up the Stop Sign and say, just a minute — you’re not ready. I have questions –comments –notes — suggestions — changes — additions, etc., etc., etc. They’re the pinch to the fuse that keeps you from launching into the world, yanks the keys from your ignition, locking the door just as you grab your coat on the way out. They’re the ones we gnash out teeth at and yell — What are you doing?!
You asked, so I’m going to tell you. As painful as it it to realize, they’re the ones that make us see our better selves. They make us slow down, take another look, consider. They are our third set of eyes. They see things we’re blind to because we’re up too close. In many cases, they know the world (the publishing one, at least) better than we do. They keep us from making fools of ourselves. They make us better writers.
So as frustrating as it is to be told to go back to the keyboard, in the end they are what helps us get published. It’s not easy to have our critiquers that our work needs just a few more tweaks before it’s ready for the world. But it much harder to have it sent out there too soon and be summarily sent back. Truly.