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I’ve been stuck on the editing process for my first fiction book for months now. It’s a process that has taken a lot longer than I ever imagined. I hired an editor and my manuscript went through a full edit. When I got back my edited manuscript with the editor’s suggested changes and notes, I froze up. I didn’t touch my manuscript for over a month.
Instead I started writing my second book and ignored my edited manuscript. I thought about it every day, but I couldn’t face it. I finally decided I needed to stop avoiding it. I sent it off to be printed over at the FedEx Office on Market and Duboce. Even though the editing was done on a word doc, I found it easier to print out the manuscript.
I spent a month going over the changes and suggestions from the editor. I was hunched over it with pens. Taking parts out, leaving parts in, taking notes, digesting the editors suggestions. Finally, I was done with the rewrite.
I decided to hire a second editor, a new set of eyes for a line edit. So off I sent my newly rewritten manuscript to be edited, again. Then the whole phase repeated itself. Once I got it back from the second editor, I looked at it for a few days. Then I felt stressed out over it, so I put it away again and didn’t look at it for over two months!
The printed manuscript sat in my drawer untouched. I found the entire editing process overwhelming with thoughts of self doubt over my book creeping into my head.
It then dawned on me, that I was using the “editing process” as an excuse to not finish my book. Friends and family would ask me, when will your book be published and I could say, when I’ve completed the editing process. Even though the twice edited manuscript was sitting on my hard drive and desk drawer untouched for months. I realized I was using the editing process as an excuse to not publish it. A convenient way of not facing my fear of putting my book and myself out there.
Then finally, I had enough. It was time to tackle this bad boy, once and for all. I dusted off the old manuscript and went back at it.
Then, just this past Sunday, I received a good omen! I went to a local meetup group I started for San Francisco/Bay Area Self Published Authors. Afterwards I was chatting with Toni Dwiggins, a fellow thriller writer that I admire and I discovered what I’ve been going through is actually normal. She also told me that by not letting my manuscript out of the editing process, I was keeping control of it. Once it’s out there, it’s out of my hands. To be judged by readers. That really struck a chord since I didn’t really realize I was doing it. I knew I was dragging my feet out of fear but didn’t really know why.
So I started this week with a new sense of purpose.
Once I’m done with this second round of editing, I’ll send off the manuscript to a proofreader for a final read through to capture grammar errors, misspellings and typos that might have been missed during the editing process (note: there is no such thing as an error-free book, even the big publishing houses with their cadre of editors and proofreaders can’t catch all) and I’ll finally be ready to publish it in late September or early October. About six months after my original target date.
So that’s it, no more “it’s in the editing process” excuses!