Editing Can Be Boring, Exciting, Scary, and Fun

So I take a day off from editing to write a blog post about editing. Hmm. I’ll probably regret it tomorrow, when I’m back to editing again, but here goes anyway….

Editing is work. I didn’t even mention that in title, because it’s kind of a given. But, really, it’s a LOT of work.

For one thing, and I imagine this is true for most authors, it’s not that much fun to re-read the book you’ve just written. You certainly can’t sit back and enjoy it as you would someone else’s book. Of course there are places where you say, “Wow! That’s really great!” and those are fun. But there are, at least for me, a lot more places where you say, “Oh crap, that could be better” or even “Oh shit, I’m doomed!”

But you keep at it, because you’re a writer and that’s what writers do.

Let me note right here that I don’t employ a professional editor, but I’m not in this alone by any means. Like the old cliché about the courtroom defendant: A writer who has only himself as an editor has an idiot for an editor.

What I have is a lot of help from my friends, in the form of a longstanding critique group. They read carefully and each naturally focuses on something a little different. Among them, and my beta readers at the end, everything seems to get covered. From the Comma Queen to the Flow Freak, they are an invaluable resource.

The best evidence of what a good job they do is that, in my three books published so far, one reader has pointed out one typo. That’s it. And, believe me, with all the avenues they have now for commenting to the author, readers are not shy about pointing out mistakes. (And one big plus to eBooks? The typo was immediately corrected.)

The stage I’m at now, however, is my own final edit of this fourth book, my own last shot at making it as good as I can, prior to sending it off to the beta readers (which include every member of the critique group, along with others).

As I implied in the second paragraph above, there is plenty to do. Clinton McCall, one of my main characters and the primary narrator, failed to describe himself at the beginning. I guess I figured the people who’d read the previous books would just remember what he looked like. I’m finding a lot of little things not quite followed up or wrapped up. I’m finding infelicitous language—repeated words, awkward phrases, unnecessary asides….

Oh shit, I’m doomed.

But no, or at least hopefully not. I am doing the work and finding all these things. With any luck, the beta readers will point out whatever I’ve missed, and ultimately I’ll publish another book my readers can enjoy without stumbling over any mistakes.

I would love that.

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