According to Kübler-Ross, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Most writers will recognise these as matching precisely the five stages of receiving editorial feedback on a manuscript. As in:
- Denial – “I refuse to believe I’ve written anything other than an award-winning piece of prose!”
- Anger – “How dare they pick holes in something I’ve sweated blood over for the past year?!”
- Bargaining – “Maybe if I just change the title they won’t notice the gaping holes in the plot.”
- Depression – “I knew it. It’s a pile of crap. I am truly the most talentless writer who ever lived.”
- Acceptance – “Actually, they’ve got a point. Second draft here I come!”
Why tell you this? Because I’ve recently received editorial feedback on a manuscript I wrote earlier this year. The notes I’ve got are all pithy, insightful and fair, and echo some of the concerns I had about the novel going in. So I’m currently juggling a few other things around (putting the current MS Black Dog on temporary hold, for example) and preparing to launch into a rewrite.
Oh, in case you’re wondering whether, when I read through the notes, I myself went through the five stages listed above, I can assure you I skipped over the first four and went straight to number five. What do you think I am – some kind of drama queen?