Friday, July 20, 2018

A True Test of Friendship

Life is worth living as long as there is a laugh in it.
~ Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

My husband admitted to me a few days ago that he was upset by the way I argued with my friend Shelagh when we were going through the manuscript of my novel.

Shelagh, an Ontario friend who is a librarian and teacher, was my first reader (and her friend Zoe, my second), and luckily for both of us, she happened to attend a conference in Halifax and could return my critiqued manuscript in person. This also meant she got to hang out where I do in rural Nova Scotia (she loves our rooster alarm clock) and and drive across the Confederation Bridge to PEI for the first time.

During her visit, we went through the manuscript page by page. This was my first time doing something like this; the edits for Field Notes were inserted into the document, which came back to me by email. I had no one to discuss them with and had to figure everything out on my own.
This was so much better! I loved doing it this way. I loved getting to challenge the suggestions, to defend why I'd written something that way, to insist we keep at an idea until I understood it enough to do the rewrite.

Apparently, to my husband listening from another room, I sounded like a total bitch who was treating my friend who had so generously read my work-in-progress like shit.

I will admit that even Shelagh said during our editing session, "I hope our friendship survives this!"
I was shocked. "Of course it will. This has nothing to do with our friendship."
And it didn't; it was strictly about the book and making it better.
I explained that to Dwayne, that the arguing and challenging and my relentlessness about everything was simply part of this process. I told him I was sure Shelagh understood that.

Perhaps my enthusiasm became a tad intense because there's an underlying fear in this work. I feel like the whole future of my publishing career is riding on this novel. Waiting for the book to come home was making me restless and anxious; I actually started to feel like I did in my twenties, when I had nothing to work towards, nothing to hang my hat on, no idea what I was doing with my life. That was a scary regression, for sure.

But I'm two-thirds of the way through working on Shelagh (and Zoe's) edits and suggestions, and I can tell you without a doubt that the in-person, page-by-page go-through of editing has made a huge difference. My ideas are much better -- more detailed, even deeper -- than if I'd been left on my own to read the comments and figure out what changes to make.

Shelagh called the other morning to say she likes the new ideas I'd emailed her about, and she admitted that while she was taken aback by my intensity with the manuscript go-through, she realized it had nothing to do with her.
Which is great to know because we have matching turquoise-and-leather bracelets but haven't yet figured out what our Wonder Twin powers are! Perhaps persistence -- yes, that's my superpower, and Shelagh's superpower is unflappable resilience in the face of great aggravation!

True friends are always together in spirit.
~ Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely surprise! And yes - Shelagh understands :)