Anyway, back to FML. So I was organizing my writing files and I came across an early draft of FML (called A TALE OF TWO PARTIES back in those days). I read a bit and was appalled. Freaking mortified.
I remember getting my first round of revision notes on it and being upset. Did my editor not see my genius? Didn't she know what I was trying to do? God, I was an idiot. Yet, I think that's human nature...especially for writers. The truth of writing is that what we have in our heads isn't always what makes it onto paper. In fact, what we have in our heads rarely makes it to the paper the way we think it does.
Have you ever seen those optical illusions where they write something wrong, but your brain corrects the error in your head? I think that's how rough drafts are. We read them the way we want them read...not the way they actually are. Editors and agents, who are reading them for the first time, are reading only what we put onto paper. They don't have our brains in their hands (though it sometimes feels like it) and can't know what we intended to say.
My old agent gave me some of the best advice I've ever gotten. He told me that when I get an editorial letter, to read it and forget it. Not forever, but for a while. Give it time to sink in. It was rough for me in the beginning, but now I've learned that when I get an editorial letter, I should write out my first few ideas in response to the letter or suggestions, and then throw those responses away.
First impressions may be critical, but first reactions usually suck. Especially mine.
So as I was reading that old draft, I realized that, even if I disagreed with some of the directions my editor wanted FML to go in, she was dead right about how much work the story needed. My first draft sucked. Hell, my first TWO drafts sucked.
But that's okay. Because drafts are just battles. You can lose a few battles and still win the war.
And I happen to think that when it comes to FML, I won. Big time.