But then I had to wait. The way it usually goes with publishing fiction is that after you sell your manuscript, your editor will do a pass and make her notes. Then it's back to you for a revision. After that, your editor might do a smaller edit, and then it goes to copyediting for the nitty-gritty proofing. After that, an uncorrected proof (meaning a paperback version that hasn't been proofed one last time) is made for everyone to review before the actual book gets printed. Reviewers usually get this version of the book. And then, in my case, about a year and a half after the sale, I will be holding my finished book. Not a speedy process, especially in this age of digital immediacy.
In August, my busy editor said she'd be sending out her revision soon. The months went by. Intellectually I knew this was normal. I worked six years in publishing. I know how it is, the piles on your desk, the manuscripts and mail that just keep coming, the deadlines that are always just on the edge of impossible. But I had too much time to think about what she might say and suggest. It started to feel like I had imagined the whole thing. Did I really sell this book?
It finally came. The Edit. And thankfully my smart and economical editor didn't have lots of abstract and scary suggestions for me, just a very doable amount of tightening and a few specific changes that made absolute sense to me. It was such a luxury to have someone else turn their experienced and objective eye on my work and make it better. That's what good editors are for. They can see what the writer can't anymore. So I did it and sent it back (after a really nerve-wracking glitch with the post office almost losing the manuscript—next time Fed Ex!) and now I know it's real. All that stress for nothing. For the next round, I just might need some burning hot brownies to get me through.