Despair And Why We Love Editors

A couple days ago book four went blithely sailing off to the editor. After revising, it was pretty dang good.

Yesterday, listening to beta readers catching a few typos, the certainty hit that I’d made a huge mistake. Sent it off to the editor way too soon. This was followed by the typical ‘should’ list that follows self-doubt.

Should have read it one more time. Should have spent a few more months, or maybe years, revising. Should just give up. Should have stayed in bed.

Today, the first chapter came back from the editor. With lots of little green comments. Let’s repeat that, shall we? LOTS of little green comments.

Worry and self-doubt was instantly replaced with that common ailment of all writers in the process of editing: despair.

I knew I should have quit writing when I was ten years old!

Of course, I’ve been through this process often enough now to know that being at the bottom of this dank, dark, writer’s pit is only temporary.

Tomorrow I’ll be excited to start work. Because in all seriousness, the little green comments are spot on.

Right at the moment though, I’m going to writhe around in self-pity thinking about what a horrible writer I am, for just a bit longer. It’s an excuse to sit in the hot tub.

Okay, that’s over with.

Because the story is going to be much stronger in a few days.

I swear though, if the husband points out one more typo, I may just take away his scotch. This was last night’s conversation as I was falling asleep:

Him: ‘You do know the women’s state prison in Idaho is in Pocatello, right? Not Wallace?’

Me: ‘Of course.’

Him: ‘You know that’s a seven hour drive, right? She can’t just hop in the car after work and make it there before the end of visiting hours.’

Me: ‘That’s why they call it fiction! If I want to move the whole prison to Wallace I will!’

And I did. The whole prison. Just picked it up and took it with me.

Hope the editor doesn’t catch that…

Editing Yourself

Okay, let’s break down, honestly, the editing process when you are getting your stuff ready for the real world. Others have said similar things before, but I’m saying it again as I am right at step #7.

1. The first draft is finally finished after lots of angst and hard work. I think it stinks, the plot sucks, the characters are even worse, and it’s time to go back to the day job.

2. I leave it alone for a few weeks, then sneak back very tentatively and peak at the first page. It doesn’t suck as bad as I thought so I read on and realize, well it’s okay at least.

3. I revise and get it to the point where I think, hey, this is actually the best one I’ve written so far.

4. It gets sent off to the beta readers with high hopes that comments will flood in on how perfect and wonderful the story is.

5. Days pass. Doubts creep in.

6. Comments come back. In this case, one of my favorites included this: 2, 4, 13, 26, 53, etc. for a long list of numbers which translate to pages with typos I somehow missed. Some comments ask basic plot questions that I can’t answer because I never thought of that – why does the protagonist come home? A lot of comments show structure issues.

7. I regress to step #1, with the added drama that it’s going to take so much work to revise I might as well toss the whole thing, give up, and move on to something else. (this is where I’m at today)

8. Eventually I laugh at myself (this always happens so these following steps are listed as coming from past experience), take the easiest comments to deal with first (probably will be the list of page numbers) and start editing.

9. The realization sinks in that, wow, these changes are making the story much stronger.

10. The edits are done, there’s a final beta reader review, and hey, this is the best one I’ve written yet!

11. The book goes out to the world and I start on the next one, and then…

12. I find typos after publication.

I imagine there are a few of you out there that can relate.