Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When Have You Edited Enough?

I'm in the throws of editing again. Cut and Dried is still there; it's just waiting for a few days. But as I sit here tonight doing line edits and checking my own red marks against my CP's, the thought occurs to me that I could continue to edit this book until my eyes bleed. Lord knows Spectacle has gone through no less than 8 edits (maybe 10). True, that was my first novel, and I really didn't have the best idea of the novel writing process, but that's beside the point.

When has a book been edited enough? How do you know when you've reached that point? There will always be a word here or there that could be tweaked. The English language has so many different ways of saying the same thing, it could drive a gal insane.

I think I'm reaching the point where I can no longer edit RTL without cutting the heart out of it. I'll complete the process of entering the hardcopy edits, but no more. I realized tonight I'm in danger of editing this book to death. And why?

Because I am scared shitless of submitting it. I'm afraid of the possibility of rejection. Let's face it folks, this has been a long hard road. Four books have gone by and I haven't published a damn thing. Note: I only really submitted for two of the five, I sent five submissions out for Blink before I paused to work on RTL, and AWJ never made it past the first draft, so I'm really not as much of a loser as I feel like. (And before I get nasty letters accusing me of calling other writers losers because they haven't published, please understand I'm talking about me and my neuroses here. We'll discuss your neuroses at another time.) The sum total of my rejections for those two books is a little more than a hundred, I think*. This is my fifth book but the third I'll submit, and while the old adage is 'third time's the charm' would work for RTL, I'm not much of a believer in charms.

This sucker will have to stand on its own.

Tonight I made the decision. When this round of edits is complete, this book is getting submitted. I'll polish my submission materials, close my eyes, and jump out into space. I was going to say 'and hope it's good enough' but hope won't get me anywhere and 'good enough' isn't good enough for publication any more.

I'm guessing no more than two weeks. I whipped through the red ink edits for five chapters tonight. At that rate, I should be through the 34 chapters in a week. Add in any CP or BR suggestions, and that might push it back a little, but not much. Waiting for CP and BR comments is only more of my delaying tactics. I know me too well, damn me. No more delays. No more excuses. I have to accept the fact this baby is ready to leave the nest. I'll try not to worry about it crashing. (But I probably will worry.)

Have you ever used editing as a delay to keep from submitting? When is enough enough? And how's your WIP coming along? Anyone got any good news for me this week?

*I don't really know how many the number is because my computer crashed and I lost all my submission data from September '04 - September '06.


Erica Ridley said...

I think I'm reaching the point where I can no longer edit RTL without cutting the heart out of it.

This is such a real fear! I have done this, and I have seen other people do it. Very smart to be aware of the potential in advance so it doesn't happen to you!

Wendy Roberts said...

The only way I can know if I've edited enough is to take a break on the ms and work on something else. Then I return to it after a couple weeks and re-read it and I try NOT to touch a darn thing.

Kristen Painter said...

Honestly, you could edit the same book for the rest of your life if you really wanted to.

There just comes a point where you have to grab yourself by the collar and demand you let it go.

Face that fear head on and submit. No editor is not going to buy you because you used big instead of large. If the storytelling is there, they'll snap it up and work the rest out in edits. That's what editors do, they edit. They get paid to do that.

We're writers. We get paid, if we're lucky, to tell a good story. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Travis Erwin said...

When you are changing things just for the sake of change, a word here a phrase there, but not really enhancing the story. that is when you are done.