Editing and the hot mess

Editing. It is the process during which a writer’s work is bashed with a grammatical hammer, put through the plotline meat grinder, and squished into a (hopefully) better, easier thing to digest.

It’s a nightmare.

It’s brutal.

I work as an editor and I still cringe at the thought of my work going through this process. It isn’t because I think my work is great, or because I think there is no way an editor “gets” me.

It’s because I know that, while I have wonderful thoughts, my technique is awkward, my words are rambling, and my vision is not always clear.

It takes an editor of near super powers to polish my books into something excellent.

I’m currently working on edits for my alter ego’s next release, The Messenger. This book was written over ten years ago when I had little…scratch that…no experience writing professionally. I did a lot of fan fiction and that sort of thing, but nothing that was worth publishing.

I’d won a prize for a manuscript I’d written. That was what boosted me along, but this book held a special place in my heart and I always wanted to see it come to light.

Now, I’m hanging my head, wishing I could take it back. It’s a mess. A hot mess. A volcanic disaster.

The heroine isn’t the most likeable person. The plot has holes that were ignored for the sake of wrapping it up. It skimmed over the emotional. It was a skeleton that the publisher thought was strong, but there is no meat to it.

Now, in the second round of edits, desperate to fix this mess before it hits you e-reader, I sent it along to a friend who writes romantic suspense.

The good news is she nitpicked at all the things I felt were lacking as well. She found some other thing as well, that I thankfully can fix, but for the most part, I expected her to say what she said.

I am so thankful for this process, painful as it is, because it gives us writers a chance to see things that we didn’t see before, to fix things that need to be fixed, and to patch up all those plot holes that would leave our readers wondering if we even bothered to reread our books before offering them up to you.

It hurts. It aches. But it is the necessary process that we have to go through to make sure that you get what you paid for when you pick up your e-reader. And as someone who sits on both sides of the table, I can tell you that being an editor is a sometimes thankless and tedious job. Those that take it on, do so out of love and respect for the author.

And I’m so thankful that they do.


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