Back to the Editing Saddle Again

Ah, the grand life of being an author. Just when I thought I was done with all edits for the second book in my Deadwood Mystery Series and ready to ship it off for formatting, more edits came in from my most nit-picky editor of all. I wish they were just spelling errors, but she did not earn her queen-of-editing crown for catching only my misspellings. The edits are going to require a couple of weeks of tweaking. For a fulltime author, they might take only a couple of days, but with my fulltime job, two kids, a husband who likes to at least see me twice a day, and my other writing obligations, I’m going to have to work hard to get these edits incorporated by month end. By the time I’m finished, it is going to feel like I’ve worked through a graduate-level fiction writing class, and I’d much rather sit in writer kindergarten and play with artsy fonts while daydreaming about which restaurant I’ll go to for celebrating when my name hits the New York Times Bestseller list.

Do we authors ever reach a stage where we finish a book and editors all gather around to oooh and ahhh over it, their red pens nowhere in sight? What would it be like to write The End on the first draft and know it’s so good that you won’t need to look at it again until you’re signing your name in the printed version for Oprah’s own private collection?

Back to reality. I have some tweaking to do, and I need to figure out how to walk the fine line between not enough and too much. I have to find a way to step back from the story and see it with new eyes. I have to figure out how to polish it without over-polishing and removing the freshness from my “voice.” Right now, saving the Earth from an incoming asteroid sounds easier.

I’ll start with a glass of wine, some silence, and a pinch of faith in myself. By the time I finish the bottle of wine, I should be good and ready. 😉

How do you deal with revisions from your toughest editors?

· Stomp and throw things?

· Tell him or her that they are wrong and just don’t understand your writing?

· Listen quietly as they explain what’s wrong with your book, while suffering internally from what feels like a battering ram slamming into your stomach repeatedly?

· Call your author buddies and complain about how hard this writing gig is?

· Smile, nod, and tell yourself this is all going to make you a better writer in the end?

· None of the above?

Thanks for letting me groan a little. Now where is that bottle of wine?



11 responses to “Back to the Editing Saddle Again

  1. *hands over the wine*

    I remember reading a post by the author Elizabeth Bear called “It’s Broken” where she talked about stepping away from a manuscript and letting go. 😀 I think in that way, our books will always need tweaking. I doubt I’ll ever hit some mythical point where it comes out perfect the first time I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)! 😀

    I don’t have the luxury of dealing with editors (or agents) yet, but truth be told I’m a little excited to see what someone else has to say about my work and the suggestions they can make to make it better. *grins* But then most of the people who know (and love!) me will say I’m a masochist.

    Good luck with your edits!


    • Thanks, Katy, for the good luck wishes. I do appreciate the edit suggestions and feel fortunate to have the help, but it takes a day to get through them mentally and regain my “can-do” spirit.

      Ann C.

  2. You have my sympathy! I am struggling with edits (for my agent, not an editor) at the moment. There is a lot of hair pulling (my own) and head banging (ditto) and self-doubt.

    I console myself by remembering a post I saw by best-selling author Susan Wiggs. She posted a picture of her latest ms, with mini-post-its coming off the pages where her editor wanted changes. It looked like a rainbow 🙂 Made me feel much better…and much worse…at the same time.

    So apparently, no, it never ends. I guess you just have to look at the editing suggestions, decide which ones you agree with, and do the suckers.

    Pass the wine, please.

  3. Ann – I have a full rack in my cellar. Come on over! While we’re sharing a bottle, I’ll tell you about my adventures in Hollywood, where the script critiques are presented to your face at a meeting and then, once you’ve endured three hours of rip, tear, shred and know you’re in for rewriting a good 80% of your screenplay, you get to go out to The Ivy for drinks and dinner with the whole crew.

    Luckily, I had about a half-hour’s reprieve in my room, which gave me just enough time to throw up, brush my teeth and get my smile back in place. And the next day, I downed some aspirin with my coffee, rolled up my sleeves and got ‘er done. No one ever even knew how devastated I was. (Hooray, acting classes!)

    I haven’t gotten much in the way of edits here in novel land, but I’m pretty sure I can take it. Though my response to your multiple choice wasn’t represented: All of the above.

    • OUCH, Lisa! You are one tough babe! Just the thought of Hollywood makes me cringe. I need to keep working on thickening my skin, constantly. I’m sure you’ll fare well with edits in novel land after enduring that. I’d like to hang out in your cellar with all of that wine. Yum!

      Ann C.

  4. We are all going to have to get together and rink some (okay, a lot) of wine some day.

    I know I’m an oddball but one of the things I love about both of my publishers – Harlequin Next and Cobblestone – is the care they give to editing and providing revisions. I LOVE doing them – it always gives me a way to see the work in a different way and I learn a lot…

    Although one time an editor said to me, there’s too much talking in this book – fix it. Now that was an interesting set of edits.


    • Kate, such a glutton for edits. 🙂

      While I don’t enjoy edits when I first have to face/read/hear them, I enjoy the excitement that comes with making a story better, knowing I’m improving it. I’m in that stage now, full of ideas and motivation and determination to “clean” the manuscript up and make it really shine. I am a firm believer that my books need an editor’s touch, no matter how painful it is.

      Ann C.

  5. I would love to get a look at that Susan Wiggs post!

    I like to have my stuff thoroughly edited. Even though it’s what I do for a living, there’s crappy stuff in my own writing that I can’t see with my own eyes.

    And I know from experience that you, Ann, know what you’re doing when it comes to writing awesome books. We all get to the point where we just can’t look at our own writing any longer and it’s time to hand it off to someone else. Good for you for being brave enough to do it!



    • Christy, thanks! You’re too nice to me. 🙂 I’m always a little amazed when an author says they don’t bother with an editor because they can catch everything themselves. I’m amazed because they are so much better than I am at the writing/editing process then. Of course, I do wonder if they really can catch everything without help.

      Ann C.

  6. Good luck, Ann. I know you can do it! Keep that bottle of wine at the ready. 🙂

    What if art was edited like books and scripts?
    I imagine my artwork coming back to me with red Sharpie marks all over it: “Sharon – more contrast here”; “this area could use more red”, “How does this motif fit into your central theme?”; “You’ve lost your focus here in the middle – tell me how chartreuse transitions into lavender? That seems out of character with what i know about lavender”; “We need to think about the next piece in the series here. Perhaps you’ve tied up the loose-ends too neatly and aren’t offering a reason for the customer to buy your second-in-a-series”; “And speaking of series, do you have enough ideas to cary you through a 10-piece retrospective?”

    What actually happens is you hear “edits” from potential buyers, after all is said and done and your artwork is hanging out there for all to see.

    Looking forward to re-reading Optical Delusions!!

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