The Five Stages of Editorial Comment Grief

Stage One: Adulation. An editor has just accepted your story/essay/book for publication. Happy day! All the writing and rewriting and worrying and dedication and practice and patience were worth it. Your voice will be heard. Now, it seems, there are just a few suggestions and corrections this editor would like you to take a look at first . . . Stage Two: Outrage. What the hell is this? These aren’t a few comments and suggestions. This is a wholesale rewrite. Maybe this “editor” should just write his own story and put his own name on it instead hiding behind yours. You’re the writer here. You. You!

Stage Three: Shame. What’s wrong with you? How could you have sent this to him? How could you have missed all this? You must have rewritten it fifteen times and it’s nothing but an amateurish mess. What must he have been thinking about you? Why’d he even take it? He did take it, didn’t he? It appears he did. According to the letter you, the author, must accept or reject all the suggested changes.

Stage Four: Acceptance. At first, you consider every altered word. You read the sentence as you wrote it and then as this editor rewrote it. Then again. And again. You decide to click “Accept” in the Track Changes feature in your Word document. Then you’re on to next the word. This you only compare once before clicking “accept.” Ditto the third suggestion. By the sixth suggestion you grow weary of this process and are becoming existentially aware of the inexactness of language. You seek out the “Accept All” tab in Track Changes and send the corrected piece back to the editor.

Stage Five: Forgetting. You receive your copy of the magazine/journal/book in the mail. You are pleased with the final result and have no memory whatsoever of who wrote/suggested what. Nor, for the record, does your editor. It is time to start another one.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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