I’m in the middle of editing 2 of my novels. Both are at different stages of the editing process. And it is a process, a mind numbing, soul sucking, drudgery of a process.
Look, don’t get me wrong. I love writing and I love editing. Let me rephrase, I love editing other people’s work. My own, not so much.
Despite this, I’m a serial editor. My first manuscript went through at least 15 edits before I was happy to send it out for people to read. Although, I think this was a delaying tactic because if I had to do one more edit, then that was another month or so before people could read it and *gasp* judge me.
I always find that my work just isn’t quite there, before I send it out, perhaps it’s just not good, full stop. I don’t know, but my love/hate relationship with editing saw my last novel taking 2 months before I finished my hand edit, and another month for a read though.
By this point I’m convinced that it’s all shit. That I’m wasting my time and that stupid word that I though meant something, actually means something else, and I don’t want to use another word because I like the way THAT word sounds in the sentence.
Usually, at this point I’m pretty desperate to finish.
So, I’ve taken a new approach that doesn’t require me to spoon out my eyeballs. I have set a limit. Me, the woman who will stare at a comma for an hour and wonder about if it should go in or not, and then remove it – only to put it back in the next day, has set a limit on editing. Because let’s face it, editing can be as boring as bat poop.
The first thing I do immediately after finishing a manuscript is to save it in forty thousand places. Back up your files, people! Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Then I cuddle the notepad or laptop to my chest and marvel at how I am the world’s most epically gifted writer.
Then I put it away. Yep, that sucker goes in the bottom draw for at least a week. Sometimes distance is all you need between a good book, and a great one.
I always do a first edit on paper. That’s right I print it out and get a fresh red pen. Why red? Because it’s the way my blood splatters over the page as I tear apart my epic Australian novel. Blood, sweat and tears, baby!
First edits are brutal, and they should be, cut the crap, find those spelling mistakes and for the love of God, Lisa remember the difference between then and than! Righto.
Back on track. Once I update this into my laptop. I do a read through. By this I mean reading the manuscript through on my laptop and making changes as I go. Why do both? Because I find that my mind picks out different mistakes if I’m looking at a computer screen, when compared to a piece of paper. Seriously, give it a go.
Now it goes to my editor, *cough* husband for his edit. He’s a paper editor too, so down comes another tree for his scribble. We only buy recycled.
Once I argue and scream and cry my way through his edits and I have updated it, I do another screen read and FINALLY I send it to my beta readers.
I get their feedback and then do another edit. By this stage I am ready to burn it, set my laptop on fire and climb under the doona for a couple of months. This story, that was epically amazing, is now just a bunch of words that I loathe and if I have to read them again I am going to pull out chunks of my hair. Normally another couple of edits would come. But my limit means my manuscript passes through ONLY 7 edits – keeping in mind that none of us are professionals.
That’s still way too much for my liking.
I want to know how you all do it? Is 7 actually quite reasonable and I’m being a melodramatic idiot? (Don’t be shy). Or is it way over the top or just right. I’m looking for some guidance here, I wonder if more the merrier is the way to go or is less more?
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