I have a confession to make. Out of my three (okay, 2.5) pro sales, every one of them has come from a rewrite request. Two of those stories took *two* rewrites to make them fit the editor’s vision. And right this very moment, I’m awaiting response for another rewrite request.
Frankly, I’m terrified.
Getting a request for revision scares the crap out of me. On one hand, it’s wonderful to hear that your story has caught the attention of an editor. The things that are good about your piece are clearly working. But then you’re challenged to go beyond your original concept and make changes. I always worry that in fixing the problems (or shifting the concept, in the case of one piece), I might destroy all the good stuff by accident. And I also worry that I just don’t have the talent or intelligence to solve a problem I clearly missed on my own.
Now that I’m working in editorial, I’m starting to see the process from the editor’s perspective. Some stories are so cool you just really want to buy them, but sometimes there are issues that keep a piece from really gelling. Finding a way to express the problem–without just handing the author some canned solution you, the editor-type, came up with–is difficult. What makes a story great is the unique expression of the author’s world, and losing that unique flavor is the last thing any of the editorial staff want to happen.
So far as a writer, I haven’t had a request for revision that didn’t make good sense, and I’ve been able to make the changes in my stories without undermining my original ideas. I know that doesn’t always happen. I don’t even know what I’d do if i was in that position! I’m eager to hear your stories and advice about times you received rewrite requests, especially ones that were really challenging. What did you do? Were you able to work out a compromise? Was it a good experience?