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Amy Zhang

Post-Deadline Thoughts

As of 1:14 A.M. October 21st, I have finished my first round of revisions. I have met my first deadline, and it feels unbelievable.

Revising this book was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Drafting it had been so simple–the story told itself, poured through my fingertips as if I were only a vessel for it. It is, as my publisher says, a “jigsaw puzzle,” and while drafting, the pieces had fallen into place all by themselves, and I had expected revising it to be just as easily.

It didn’t, of course. Because the book is told in a non-linear fashion, I couldn’t move a scene without changing two scenes before it and three scenes that followed. I would try to make subtle revisions, a nudge here, a shift there, and everything would fall apart, and I would sit curled on my floor with my laptop cast among the circle of charts and revision plans and the pages of my edit letter, thinking about all that could go wrong, all that was going wrong. I thought about all that homework piling up and all of that college stuff I hadn’t touched yet. I thought about the thirty, forty, fifty chapters of my book I had yet to edit. I thought about all of the chapters from contests that I had yet to critique and all those manuscripts from my internship that I had yet to read.

Basically, I sat there and whimpered. Cried. Sent panicky, all-caps emails to just about everyone–critique partners, non-writer friends, teachers, my agent. Cried some more, thinking about marketing and publicity and how I didn’t know how to do any of it. A bit more, imagining all of the bad reviews I was sure to get. And then some more, because there was so much to do, and I would have more time to do if I would stop bawling.

Today, of all days, I should have had a breakdown. I had noticed a pattern–they usually came during the ungodly hours of Monday morning, surprise, start off the week strong! Today (well, yesterday, really) was the last day before my deadline, and I wasn’t finished with my final read-through. It was a perfect opportunity to eat chocolate and cry, and I was ready to, when I was suddenly struck by what an incredible thing it was for me to be stressed at all.

I was stressing over turning in my manuscript on time to my dream publisher. My editor brought some of my favorite books, books that I’ve grown up with, into the world–she had made it possible for me to fall in love with these characters and peek into their distant lands and take them with me, between covers designed by people who were now working on my cover, copyedited by people who were combing my manuscript for mistakes, loved by a team that was now taking an enormous risk by loving my book as well.

It’s two in the morning. I am exhausted, sleep-deprived, barely aware of what I’m typing, and I am the happiest person in the world.

One Response to “Post-Deadline Thoughts”

  1. You are an inspiration for me..

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