Well three things. Maybe they’re not that funny, but I thought they were at the time.
For any of you seeking to publish—read that, anything— you’re familiar with the finality and the accompanying anxiety of letting go of the final copy. Here are a few things that happened after I had ‘finished’ the manuscript for “Season’s Stranger” and submitted it for editing.
As I was binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy several months ago (no, I had never seen more than an episode or two), I came upon the episode where two youths with Cystic Fibrosis were in love. I found out for the first time that an intimate relationship between two individuals with CF was nearly always a death sentence. Two important characters in “Season’s Stranger” were married and as originally written, both had CF. I had no time to do an extensive rewrite, so I had to email the editor with some retrofitted sentences.
Later in the process, I was watching an episode of Hoda and Kathie Lee. Good thing for television, huh? One of their male guests used the word ‘manscape,’ which I had used in the book. Kathie Lee bravely asked, “What is manscape?” The guest laughed and suggested, “Use your imagination . . . or Google it.” I did. I had heard it used almost synonymous with enjoying a landscape only the view was of men, and that was how I used it. It prompted another email to the editor who replied, “I’ve heard it used the way you used it. I really liked that passage.”
I, too, really liked the passage—if only it contained the conventional use of the term (if convention applies here)! It was deleted. Sigh!
Then there was a paragraph ravaged by the editor threatening to impact the trajectory of the novel. I pushed back and realized he didn’t know one of the subplots involved autoerotic asphyxiation, though I never used the term. When I told him, he was aghast that he hadn’t picked up on it. He replied, “You have to make that clear!” My response, “Oh no I don’t! My 60something-year-old sister picked up on it!” But I did make some changes. Minimal rewrites, without the term, probably made it clear to anyone who read the novel. At least I think it did.
Certainly, these bumps in the road do not represent the real challenges of publishing—the least of which is the writing of course!