Judging for the CYBILS awards this year has taught me many things.
One thing I've learned is how HARD it truly must be for editors to read manuscripts day after day, evening after evening, subway ride after subway ride -- God bless them!
Over the last few weeks as I've been staying up late and getting up early, reading the 10 wonderful novels that are finalists for the CYBILS (in Fantasy/SciFi,) and preparing for the judging meeting where we'll choose the best YA and MG fantasy books of 2007 -- I learned the following:
Great books, when you read them in quick succession, are still great books. But they can lose some of the luster that they might have had if you had had time to read them in leisurely fashion while lying in a hammock in the sunshine. Beautiful prose, strong characters and great plots need to stand out in a writing competition or they will begin to blur a bit together. And the same is, of course, true for the piles of paper on an editor's desk. This is why they tell us to submit a manuscript whose first pages will grab their attention, their heart, and their soul.
I've loved reading the CYBILS books and I'm sure that editors, in general, love reading manuscripts as well. But I want to send out a note of thanks here, nonetheless:
To the Editors,
For reading, reading, reading our manuscripts
For looking for the gems among the stacks of paper on your desks
For reading on the subway, on your lunch hour, and during the commercial breaks in your favorite sitcom
For falling in love with some of our manuscripts instead of just throwing them all in the trash
For reading until the words blur together, and you have to struggle to separate the characters in my story from the ones in the manuscript that you read two hours ago
For all of this
I have read only 3,500 pages of other people's (great) writing over the past 3 weeks, but my respect for you has increased with every page.
So, God bless the editors. May you have three extra hours added to each day. And may you be able to eat lunch without a manuscript sitting next to your sandwich.