Editing Pains

You know, I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly good editor, both of my own work and others. In high school, friends would bring me their papers to read through and give them pointers. In college, I was a tutor for student-athletes at the University of Oregon, and did a lot of assisting with essays (though, usually they’d give me their paper about half an editinghour before it was due, and I’d mark it all up, THEN they’d tell me they had no time to fix it!!). Then as a grant writer for seven years, I did a lot of “fixing” of other people’s writing. They’d give me the rough details of a project, and I’d turn it into persuasive prose. Finally, with my self-published novels I went through them several times after the re-writes, looking for any mistakes or rough parts. I thought I was really thorough.

But I didn’t know crap until now. David (my editor for The Weaver’s Light) and I are now on the THIRD round of edits, and have exactly a week to get through the last 30 chapters! You’d think this would mean we’d just be scanning for commas and typos, but GEEZE, I’m still finding clunky stuff that needs re-working. In round two, I ended up re-writing a whole chapter! I’m sure David pulled his hair out, but it really needed to be done. The problem is, I think a writer could re-write her work for the rest of her life, so that eventually the original story is completely replaced by something different as the author herself changes and grows. At what point do I just say “STOP IT, MARA!”? I guess after this round, ’cause my deadline is Feb. 1 to get edits to the publisher. Even after these edits are done though, I think we have to go one more time with the galley poofs (?). That’s where we’ll catch typos and commas, etc. I think.

I’m sick of the story. Sick of the characters. Sooooooo want to be done with Callan’s pessimism and Pashi’s timid uncertainty. The only comfort I have is that I read some author (can’t for the life of me remember who or where I read it) said that he didn’t think he’d really done a good job editing until he hated his story. Well, I must be doing a good job.

What about you writers out there? How do you like the editing process, and how the hell do you know when to quit?

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