Last weekend I completed my first real edit for publication (cover art to the left). As soon as I’d received it from my editor I started out by going through and making the minor changes he’d suggested like comas (we all know I’m bad about those) and words to delete, sentences that needed rewording—the usually stuff. All that took a couple of days. Then I decided to print out the manuscript so I could lug it everywhere I went and mark the parts I wanted to change. I thought it would take another day, maybe two before I would be ready to send it back to my editor. But as I got further into the ms I started noticing more and more problem areas in need of my attention.
My one, two days at the most turned into two, maybe three more.
I started thinking about that movie from the 80’s starring Tom Hanks called The Money Pit. A story about a young couple, very much in love, who buy a neglected house with tons of potential but in need of repair. The deadline for the renovation came and went time after time without completion. Each time, the couple would ask the foreman, “how much longer,” and he would say, “two, three weeks tops.” You see, every time the workers would fix something, they would find something else that needed repair.
And so it went with my edit. First I noticed that I’d had a terrible habit of repeating words like, rather, somewhat, a bit, that… oh and, quite. My favorite as it seemed by the obscene amount of times I’d overused it. And adverbs—lots of adverbs.
So, I upped my estimated time of completion to three, maybe four days.
Then, I remembered that I had adapted some lines from a children’s book into a play for one of the scenes. A huge no, no, by the way. I’d always thought one could use a certain number of lines from a song or book without infringing on copyright laws. Does anyone out there know for sure? Anyway, now I had to invent a new play.
I was up to four, maybe five days.
My editor came to my rescue with a great idea and some workable prose for the play but that didn’t really help speed me along because by then I’d made it to the last few chapters of the ms and realized that I’d gotten rather lazy toward the end and in my rush to finish all those three years ago, I had left quite a bit of important things out. Things like, transitions from one paragraph to another, scene setups and, wow, were there a lot of ellipses.
Five, maybe six days now.
Long story short, I got to the end, transferred all my changes from the printed ms to the computer and lastly, went back and read through all my changes to make sure they were correct. And guess what? I found more problems I’d missed. I fixed them, reread and found more. Nothing major, just a word here, a thought there. After a while I couldn’t tell if any of it actually needed to be changed, or if it was just me.
Is there ever an end when it comes to editing? If I read through it a hundred times would I still find parts and/or words I thought needed changing?
Six turned to seven and I said, “Enough, already!” looked up to the teeny, tiny ray of sunlight fading down to the bottom of the pit I’d been digging, tossed my proverbial shovel to the heap of incomplete thoughts and excessive verbiage and proclaimed myself…
That is until I fired up my computer this morning and found that my editor had sent the whole edit back to me for one more go through.
Now, where did I leave my shovel again?