Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dread ... I'll survive, really ....

I define dread as something that I KNOW is coming, something unpleasant: a visit to the dentist to replace a filling, my yearly physical in which copious amounts of blood are drawn very painfully ... a known and quantifiable nastiness.

I have 4 editors. For 3 of them, there's minimal work involved in the editing process. My edits for them usually take an hour or two for the first pass, an hour for the second, and there's seldom a third pass.

The 4th editor ... I'm not quibbling with the things she wants me to change (although she often highlights a word and says I'm using it incorrectly and I end up having to look it up in the dictionary and reply, 'no, sorry, you're wrong'. THAT'S annoying). I'm quibbling with the AMOUNT of things she wants me to change. Most of the changes are things that I doubt a reader would question, notice, or care about. But I can't argue with them, because her logic on the changes makes sense.

The first edit pass took me almost 16 hours to do. Almost every page had a change, many facts were questioned, descriptions were dissected, character motivation needed beefing. Note that this is a time travel book so there's a lot of detail about the time period, a lot of which was questioned. Believe me, I don't claim to be an expert in that time period, but I DID do my research and I DID have facts to back me up. Some of the suggested changes were useful for the reader, some were just ... details.

Side note: the other two books in the series had different editors. These books did have more editing than my mystery books, but the edits took me maybe 3-5 hours for each book. Nothing on the order of magnitude for this third book in the series. End Side Note.

Because it took so long for me to do, I decided for the second edit pass to do just a little bit every day. So I took an hour a day and got it done. The second edit pass took me about 8 hours to do. I'm on the third edit pass now and I'm into my 4th hour. Again, I'm doing an hour a day. I'm almost done. I'm praying the rest of the book will be relatively easy.

This may not sound like much -- an hour a day. Keep in mind that I work from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then I come home, exercise, feed the critters and/or the spouse, do other chores ... which leaves me about 2-3 hours to write. I hate using up one of those free hours for editing. I don't mind if it's really adding a lot to the story or if I'm learning as I go, but I don't think this is. And weekend ....? Forget it. If I'm lucky, I'll get an afternoon to sit down at the computer. The rest of the time is taken up with ... well, you know.

Because of this, I've decided not to continue the series. It doesn't sell very well and the amount of research and effort I put into writing the books just doesn't pay off. Factor in the editing and ... well, it's a losing proposition. If the books take off, I'll revisit my thoughts, but for now this is the last book in the series. It sort of breaks my heart to say that, but maybe I'll take the books to another publisher after the rights revert to me and see what happens there. That's in the future and I'll worry about it then.

So when I got that email saying 'here's your edits' I was FILLLED with dread. I postponed, I procastinated, and I put it off. Then I finally had to suck it up and get them done. And that's where I'm at right now: just do it and get it done. I whisper to myself, "page 165. Only 40 pages to go. Don't think about if it's improving the book, don't worry about whether it changes the tone. Just get it done."

Yes, I'll survive. Really. {gasp} I'm fine.

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