The Velveteen Heroine

I submitted my manuscript to my editor about four months ago.

I am supposed to get my editorial letter sometime this week. That will be the first official feedback on my novel--the missive that tells me what major changes my publisher may wish me to make.

I don't know if I will get that letter this week or not. I won't speculate on circumstances I know nothing about. Might something come up to delay the letter? Perhaps. Not being in my editor's shoes, I will simply wait and see.

I can understand why a publisher might need to build in some extra time between the manuscript submission date and the time when the editing process starts up. I'm sure there are many times when that three or four months of lag time has saved some editor's skin, when a writer did not deliver a manuscript by the original date!

I want to assure you about something though: I have NO complaints about post-contract waits. This feels nothing like the agony of pre-contract limbo. Some of my writer-friends are still hanging in that limbo while awaiting word from publishing houses on potential contracts.

This wait has given me one enormous gift already: time to get my 1855 novel in better shape before the editorial letter sends me back to the 1825 novel.

I have learned so much from revising that 1855 novel. I had to take the whole thing apart and examine all the pieces. Then, once I started putting it back together, it stayed silent and awkward for a while. Only this week, when I put the final, crucial part into place did the thing start to hum again. Now it makes sense. It WORKS.

I had been avoiding that last part of the revision because I didn't want to deal with it. I had the sense that I wanted to do something different, that a certain aspect of my heroine's character was not right. Finally I made myself think it through. And that was that! All at once, she made sense in every way. She turned from a velveteen heroine to a Real one.

Do you write your characters into Realness, as the Velveteen Rabbit gradually became Real? Was there a specific moment as you wrote your novel when your protagonist became Real? Or do you know your main characters so thoroughly before you begin writing that they are Real from the very start?