Swoon Author Sandy Hall's Editing Update: Letting Go
Jennifer Honeybourn and I have been writing an email chain back and forth to each other with the subject “Hello. I’m stressed out” for a while now. It started with an email about finishing a third round of edits for The Shortest Distance Between Love & Hate.
In that initial email, I wrote “THIS BOOK ISN'T READY FOR COPYEDITS. I'M NOT READY FOR COPYEDITS.”
What’s funny about this sentiment, at least to me, is that it’s a feeling I have Every. Single. Time. one of my books heads into copyedits.
There’s this notion that I can’t shake. In my mind, the book just isn’t ready. There are holes, there are characters issues, there are sentences that sound wrong, and it’s just not shiny enough. In other words, it’s not Perfect.
I end up with this weird feeling of guilt, like I can’t believe some poor copyeditor is going to have to read this drivel! The logical side of me knows that it’s time. That I’ve done everything that I can, but I can’t seem to silence my inner critic. The one that’s chanting out all the things that are wrong with the story, all the things I can’t change without setting off major dominoes throughout the story.
I’ve never sent a kid off to college, but part of me thinks it’s a little bit like that. You have to assume that you’ve done everything you could to help it and nurture it, and just let it go. It’s out of your hands now.
Unfortunately the sending your kid to college metaphor falls apart soon after that initial comparison. Is Thanksgiving break like getting copyedits back? Is publication like graduation? These are the questions I ask myself.
Suffice to say, copyedits are a hard time for me. I worry a lot about the technicalities of the book, but more than that, I worry that the copyeditor will spot some fatal flaw. Something no one else has noticed up until that point. It always feels like too much, too soon.
When it’s time for your book to move on, you have to push it out of the nest and hope for the best. Yes, now my book went from a college student to a baby bird. I’m just overflowing with metaphors today, friends.
Every time I send back copyedits, I cross my fingers and hit send. Then I write an all-caps email to my writer friends to let off some steam. It helps.