Life Cycle of a Writer – Jan Brigden

There it sat in my inbox.


The butterflies descended before I even opened the attachment.

The lovely email from my editor, introducing herself and offering me all the support and encouragement I could have hoped for, put a huge smile on my face, but I don’t mind admitting to you that, upon initially reading the proposed structural revisions for my first novel, the photo below pretty much summed up my mood.




I could hear my fellow Romaniac Vanessa’s voice in my head: “Freeze it for a couple of days, Jan, then have another read and things will look much clearer.”

Mr B, of course, agreed, and being as fantastically calm and reassuring as ever, came in from work the following day, clutching these: 



Sure enough, upon reading through the report another two or three times, and accepting my lovely editor’s kind offer to walk me through it page by page, we arranged to meet in London.

I’d been a bit apprehensive on the train beforehand as, having absorbed the suggestions and feeling enthusiastic about ninety per cent of them, (even though I had no clue if I could actually implement them successfully!) I also knew there were one or two points we were likely to disagree on.

I needn’t have worried, because within ten minutes of meeting my editor and seeing her passion for my novel and my characters, and hearing her brilliant explanations of how the edits would help to enrich the overall story, I was eager to get cracking.




I’d wrongly been of the mind-set that we were on opposing teams. Why would I feel like that? Was it preciousness on my part kicking in? Over-sensitivity to criticism (albeit hugely constructive) perhaps? It was very much a two-way discussion, with my thoughts and ideas fully respected. To quote my editor: “It’s your book, Jan.”

And so I set to work. It took me longer than I’d hoped, with a fair few huffs and puffs of frustration at myself along the way (and much cake & choccie scoffing!) but when I read through the revised copy of my manuscript, and could see how my editor’s proposals had strengthened the novel, I felt elated.


VLUU L100, M100 / Samsung L100, M100


I only hope my editor feels the same 😉

To say I’ve learned a lot from the experience would be downplaying it.

It feels great and very exciting to be part of such a fab team.

Next up … Line Edits!

Chocolate Button, anyone?

Jan x



22 thoughts on “Life Cycle of a Writer – Jan Brigden

  1. You know in your shoes, I would have reacted exactly like you! But the gift of objectivity and a bit of distance from our books is a Godsend, as Lord knows we can’t do that bit ourselves! X

    • Too true, Yasmin. I so appreciate all the advice and suggestions I’ve had to help strengthen the novel. It’s so funny what we put ourselves through emotions-wise, huh?! 🙂 Thanks for your lovely comment.

      Jan X

  2. Lovely post, Jan. I think you must be one of the nicest and easiest people in the world to work with.
    I hope it doesn’t take too long. I’m so looking forward to reading this book.

    • Aw, thank you June – what a lovely thing to say! I really appreciate your good wishes 🙂

      Jan X

  3. It’s a challenge but you got good advice to start with – I always read mine, have a minor panic, put it away for 24 hours then read again – somehow it’s never as bad the second time around! You’ve done the hardest part now and the story will definitely be better.

    • Thanks so much, Angela. Yes, that advice to deep freeze it worked wonders! I’m so grateful for all the advice & support 🙂

      Jan X

  4. I’ve just got my next edits through, Jan and can completely relate to what you’re saying! I can’t wait to read your finished book! 🙂 xx

    • Thanks, Clare. I feel so much more confident about the novel now. Best of luck with your own edits! 🙂

      Jan X

  5. Congratulations on getting through them, Jan! I find the secret to success with edits – is keeping the initial panic at bay. Deep breaths lol x

    • Thanks, Sarah. You’re spot on about keeping the nerves and initial panic under control. It definitely helped me. Really appreciate your comment 🙂

      Jan X

  6. Well done Jan for sticking with your edits and getting them finished. It must be great to think, when you handed them back to your editor, that the novel has come out of the process better and stronger than before. I’m intrigued about how the whole editing process works. Other than myself, members of New Romantics Press and my beta readersI pretty much fly solo. I can’t wait to read the finished article . I am also interested in what Line Edits entail. Maybe that’s something for another blog post ? Yours, nosily, Lizzie 😋 PS I chomp on Lily O’brien’s salted caramels when writing.

    • Thanks muchly, Lizzie. Supportive as ever! It’s been a real learning curve for me. I think Mr B deserves a medal for putting up with my mood swings these past few weeks. I do feel so much happier with my novel now though. These editors really know their stuff. Thanks for all your good wishes 🙂

      Jan X

  7. I love the lighthearted way you’ve written about a topic so many of us can relate to. I’m also an advocate of keeping the initial panic at bay. And I’ve always found the novel is stronger afterwards, especially if you’ve a lovely editor who respects your own wishes.

    • So right, Margaret – if you can keep that initial EeeK! at bay and let things settle awhile, everything seems so much calmer. I feel blessed to have the editor I’m working with 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

      Jan X

  8. I read this earlier but didn’t have time to comment, Jan. It did make me smile though. I think we’re all a bit daunted at first at the thought of our work being edited, mostly because we imagine an editor is there to pick our story apart. Not so. My editing experience with Choc Lit was hugely positive and, like you, I felt elated seeing how much my story had improved at the end of what was actually quite an enjoyable process. I loved getting back in touch with my characters, I have to say. Well done you on completing yours. I bet you won’t be quite so daunted next time. 🙂 xx

    • Honestly Sheryl, I reckon I must have experienced every emotion going – lol! You’re right, it’s a really enjoyable process (once you pick yourself up off the floor!) Everyone at Choc Lit has been so supportive. Thanks for your good wishes 🙂

      Jan X

  9. Looking forward to reading the final perfected version, Jan. I’m confident it’ll be a winner.

  10. I have so been there and you described the feeling of initial protectiveness, defensiveness, and terror that I always feel upon reading comments from my editor and beta readers on my novels. And just like you, after a few minutes (days) and some breathing exercises, I realize how much better the changes will make my book. Great post!

    • Honestly Meredith, my emotions were all over the place. I’m so glad I’m not alone in this! 🙂 I shall keep those breathing exercises in mind for future reference. Thanks so much for your comment.

      Jan X

    • Thanks so much, Elle! Yes, Mr B is an angel. He’s been a constant support throughout the whole process. 🙂

      Jan X

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