Does anyone ever really tell you about the pain of editing a book?
I am working on the edits for my working mum book (out January 2012, did I tell you?). If anything could be described as painful, but necessary, edits are it.
As are visits to the dentist, but that’s another story.
When you send off a manuscript, you send off something that you believe is as good as it can be. And then it is edited by a professional editor, and the results sent back to you. At which point you realise just how far from ‘good as can be’ your original was.
There is nothing fun about it. There’s a lot of sighing and groaning and ‘why can’t they see what I meant there?’ going on.
But I soldier on with the implicit understanding that all of this hard work is making my book better. As good as it can be.
Having worked as both a sub-editor (line by line, comma by comma) and a features editor (overall flavour, tone, style), I have the deepest respect for editors of all types. For the most part, they are not out to get you (though there are exceptions to every rule). They want to help you make your book sing. Opera. In Italian, if necessary.
When I wrote my first full-length novel, I was advised to send the finished manuscript to a structural editor for feedback before I submitted it to publishers. I sent it off, full of confidence that it would come back with a note saying ‘perfect, don’t change a word’. It came back. I cried.
After I rewrote the book, I could see where I’d gone wrong. I learned so much, developed so much as a writer. So much so that my new novel, nearly complete, is absolutely perfect. Right up to the part where I send it off for a structural edit…
In the meantime, however, I am secretly pleased that the amount of ‘red pen’ on the working mum book is nowhere near what I might have expected. It doesn’t make the actual process any easier, but at least there won’t be blood on the pages this time.
And I know that, when I’m finished, the book will be as good as it can be.
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