A few weeks ago, I sent out a test "first" chapter to an editor to look over. She read through the first five pages and gave me some suggestions to slay the early writing demons. I was rather pleased that she took the bite at my book to begin with, especially with as disjointed as my description was. She was intrigued and she warned me ahead of time she was a harsh mistress. I took it as a good sign.
I can see how she could think I would hate her. She's harsh and direct but it isn't mean-spirited. She honestly sees problems and is making suggestions for me to improve. All of the suggestions she makes I can at least understand, even if a couple of them I believe are wrong. She is ruthless with unnecessary words, which is something I am HORRIBLE at. She also made suggestions for my entirely too wordy run-on sentences. She didn't re-write my book for me, which is what a couple of other editors have tried to do for me in the past, but she made firm suggestions.
All in all, the first chapter I had in mind isn't going to be a first chapter. As she said, it would be too harsh to put in all at once at the beginning of the book. It really IS kinda horrible as far as treatment of the character and I can see the point. The people I've had read through everything are.... um. How do I put this? ... my friends are freaks, weirdos and geeks. Most of them aren't horribly put off by Baby's treatment because they can read beyond it. Pushing it off onto another reader who is woefully unprepared would turn them off entirely. Small chunks would be easier to handle throughout the book. I'm taking her suggestion and going to go through with a hacksaw and machete and clear out some of the dead stuff from the work. At least that much I will have done and ready to go so I can copypasta work in instead of having to re-write it later.
My editor also read through five pages of something that made her very uncomfortable and gave me good, strong feedback in the middle of that. I can't tell you how greatly I appreciate that. The chapter borders on non-consensual and involves a character that is barely, barely legal. She was a hell of a trooper and actually thanked me for letting her read. I sent a letter back thanking HER for reading. She gave up her time without pay to look over a book she may or may not be interested in taking on as a project. That honestly means so much to me, I can't even put into words how appreciative I am. I tried in the email and ended up deleting it because it sounded like I was painting her up to be some kind of Goddess, but I NEED this kind of feedback! All of my friends want to encourage me, but none of them stop and go "You know, this might be too much" because they're freaks and weirdos like me. I have the knowledge that Baby will be okay. The reader doesn't. Fresh eyes can see.
I will be going back through and writing, maybe posting good snippets. I am at least encouraged by the fact she didn't say "burn it with fire" or "never contact me again". She actually encouraged me to bother her later and said I looked to be on the right track. I'm stoked beyond a shadow of a doubt. It has encouraged me to actually write again because I might might MIGHT have a chance at publication.
A day or two after I sent her a message thanking her for her time, she sent back a message a day or two later asking me if I was interested in a con-crit partner. Yes, I'm VERY interested, especially if she is interested in the same thing I am. This author also does urban fantasy and horror, she's also into LGBT relationships and she's pretty passionate about what she does. As the editor said, I hope we both work out together because if there's one thing I need, it's someone who isn't going to sugarcoat everything and blow smoke up my ass. I need someone who will give me actual honest to gods good, strong feedback. I want someone to say "This just isn't working. Maybe try this."
I've found, through my blog, two very nice people who have commented with suggestions so far. Starting up this blog again has been one of the best things I've done in awhile. Sticking my neck out and actually doing something for once has been a positive thing. I'm almost tempted to start going to a writing group and listening in on what they're working on, what they're doing, how they're plotting and planning.
I don't have enough time in my day to go to the gym or to sit down and write most of the time, so I don't know where I'm going to be pulling my time from, but it's at least something more than I've been doing. If I want this, I have to DO this. This is a step in the right direction.