Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Time to Let Go, or is It?

For the last several weeks, I’ve been working hard on the release of Next Time, the second book in the Time for Love series. As a result, I’ve come to two very important conclusions. One, I need an editor. Two, I have to let go sooner or later.

Even though I call it work, I love to write. I love creating characters and scenes and bringing stories to life. It’s especially rewarding when readers connect with my story and they share that with me. The part of writing that I’m not so keen on, the part that makes it feel like work to me, is the editing.

Editing is one of those double edged swords to me. I understand and value its importance. I want to be able to give my readers the most polished product I can. I want them to focus on the story without being distracted by errors. As a writer who’s also a reader, which most writers are, I’m often tripped up when I’m reading a book and run across an error. If I really like the book or the author or both then I’m usually willing to let it go. If I’m on the fence about the story, that might be the deal breaker for me. I don’t want to be the deal breaker for my readers. In that respect, I value the editing process and put a lot of pride in getting it right.

Then there’s the other side of the editing coin. No matter how many times I read through a novel, no matter how many different formats or methods I use, I always seem to miss something. Since I don’t want to release the novel until I’m one hundred percent confident its error free, you can see how easy it is for the process to become so labor intensive.

Case in point, I have spent the last month editing Next Time. I’ve read and edited and reread and edited again. It’s like the old hair washing adage of lather, rinse, repeat. That’s what I’ve been doing with my editing process; read, edit, repeat.

I thought I had reached the point where I was ready to let go of Next Time. I did what I thought was that final round of edits and sent the book to be formatted. While publication is the next step after formatting, I always do one last review when I get the file back from the formatter. The theory is that having taken a break from my endless review of this novel, I’m fresh enough to catch anything I might have missed.

Boy did I catch what I missed! And it wasn’t one or even two things. There were a few things I missed. In one scene, I had the character remove his socks and then his shoes. That’s a pretty big sequencing error. In another scene, I had a character locked out of the house because she left her keys somewhere. That was fine until two chapters later when the keys she lost magically appeared to let her into her old apartment. Oops. I also found the standard missing words. I think I counted three, maybe four, missed words that I’ve overlooked all this time.

As you can imagine, these errors sent me into panic mode. I started wondering what else I’d missed. That led to me contemplating pushing back the release of the novel to do another round or two of edits. After much discussion with myself, I’ve come to the following conclusions.

I need an editor. Despite my best efforts, I always miss something. Maybe I’m too emotionally invested. A detached, impartial and experienced editor will be able to zero in on these mistakes and help me fix them the first or second time. Since hiring an editor is far outside of the budget of this indie author, I’ve come to another important conclusion. It’s time to let go. Despite my best efforts, I may have missed something. I hope not, but I can’t keep holding back waiting for a level of perfection that may never come.

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