I can’t edit my own writing.
What a surprise.
In the theatre, we know that an actor needs a director. And a playwright needs actors and directors. I’ve been an actor, a director, and a playwright. When I’m wearing one hat, I don’t try to wear any other hats.
But only now have I learned this about writing novels.
I’ve edited novels. I’ve reviewed novels. I’ve been writing for years—a thesis, academic articles, newspaper articles, marketing and fundraising materials. And several pounds of my own journals. I can spot a missed semi-colon at forty paces.
Guess what. I cannot edit my own work—any more than I can direct myself as an actor.
My novel, Siljeea Magic, will be published by Black Rose Writing in October (2019). I went over it with the proverbial fine-toothed-comb before sending it to them. I even read it backwards, paragraph by paragraph.
Black Rose formatted it. (The cover is gorgeous; check it out.) They sent it to me for review. I found a couple of things. They fixed them and sent it back.
And I discovered that I could not see the words. So I gave it to my friend Susan, who has retired from many years of writing for the Boston Globe.
She found lots of stuff. Stupid semi-colons. Words missing from sentences. A word that I made up (this is a fantasy novel) that was spelled two different ways. Along with about five sentences that were what the kids call a hot mess.
I had a nervous breakdown. Then I sent Black Rose a long list of changes.
Dave the Designer has been endlessly patient. I was waiting for him to say “This thing is formatted and ready to print, what is your problem?” But he didn’t. Thanks, Dave.
When I Googled “How to edit your own book,” I got more than three pages of responses. I like this one because it suggests printing the manuscript in an odd font.
It also suggests reading it out loud. For an 85,000-word novel, that takes time. There’s a reason I have never wanted to be a full-time editor; I lack the patience.
I also checked out novel-editing apps. I tried the freebies from two of them. But both are set up only to write in. If you want to edit your finished novel, you have to paste it into the app, 60 pages at a time. Did I mention that I lack patience? Especially because when you cut and paste the resulting section back into your novel, it blows up the formatting.
I just Googled “cultivating patience.” Five pages’ worth of tips. But I’m too impatient to read them.