Are you waiting for the perfect editor? I didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t read too many “what not to do when writing” blog posts (in fact I’d never read a blog post until years after my first completed manuscript). I made many newbie mistakes (especially in formatting and assuming my eyes were better than they were), but if I’d waited until the perfect editor came along after the perfect windfall of cash to hire said editor I’d never have published anything, and I’d have missed truly the best years of my life sharing my characters with others and getting their OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE FEEDBACK. Sure I’d have loved to have someone proof my book for typos, and my aim is for perfection, but even without it publishing independently has taught me so much and given me so much satisfaction.
A few months ago my novel THE HOUSE ON TENAFLY ROAD received a terrific/terrible review on Goodreads. “This book is heartbreaking, inspiring, and had my hooked from every page. The plot, the characters, the storyline, was all brilliant and beautiful and captured me with every word.
Words that were, of course, properly spelled. . .” (you can read the rest here if you want to). I wasn’t surprised. Of course I know how to spell, but my fingers and then my eyes missed an annoying amount of misplaced apostrophes and weirdly spelled words–finger problems. Every time I found one my face burned in humiliation (for about two days), but then I’d get ANOTHER ROSY REVIEW and put off what I knew I must do. In the back of my mind I knew that one day I would have to face up to the challenge of re-editing my 600 pages of love, addiction and redemption.
Tsk-tsk all you want at me for doing things in a very mixed up way, but back when I first discovered Kindle and Nook I imagined only my family reading my life’s work (after I was dead they’d realize how much they didn’t know about me–violins please). But then my book received A FANTASTIC REVIEW from a professional person! So forgive me for moving merrily along.
I’m a terribly impatient writer who falls intensely in love with my fake/real people, and I’m also one who worries I won’t live long enough to finish all the writing that must be done about the families in my series. I needed to know what happened to everyone before I could go back and fix apostrophes!
Finally this winter when the good/bad review came in I was ready. Apostrophes beware! Some writers seem to hate editing, but I adore it. Every moment spent with my characters is such a joy–one I denied myself for years waiting to write, then waiting to publish and finally waiting to edit.
There are days when I really, really wish I had published traditionally so I wouldn’t have to worry about apostrophes, but those days are few and far between. I like being a control freak. It’s all my fault if things go terribly wrong, but if things go right I’m over the moon. I remember editors telling me to cut the book down to nothing because first-time authors couldn’t sell big books. I never wavered on what I wanted from The House on Tenafly Road. I wanted a story long and deep enough to make me mourn coming to the end of it. I wanted to live in a world for more than an hour–whatever the publishing consequences.
People know my soul now. I never expected that. My daughter-in-law designs book covers for me as if she lives inside my head. Even on my worst days I have the peace that comes from doing what you once waited for permission to do. On my worst days I have editing. I live in a dream world and can stay there as long as I like, falling in love with parts of stories or tiny details I’d almost forgotten about, over and over again.
LUANNE CASTLE is a wonderful poet and blogging friend who kindly not only read my novel but delicately nudged me to really put my heart and soul into the re-editing of THE HOUSE ON TENAFLY ROAD.You can read her WONDERFUL REVIEW (of the freshly edited edition now available on kindle and in paperback) HERE.
I’ll share an excerpt of the review:
“The novel is long (much longer than most books) but John’s path to redemption is plagued with very realistic setbacks and mistakes, and I hung on to every word, eager to get to the next plot development. In a book this rich and layered, various threads repeatedly surface. For example, as makes sense for a serious book of American history, Morris examines the issue of race—specifically Native American images through the eyes of well-read east coast citizens, through the military, and through John Weldon himself. She doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, such as Weldon’s Indian mother’s alcoholism. Her touch is so deft that while she made my heart break at seeing atrocities against the Apaches through the eyes of the appalled and far-removed Americans back in New Jersey, she also showed me the results of two cultures slamming into one another.”
So, all of you new and hesitant writers out there don’t wait forever to publish. If you can afford an editor, by all means go for it. (I actually paid for an editor who admitted getting too caught up in the story to pay attention to misplaced apostrophes–he assumed I’d publish traditionally and the editors on staff would take care of the annoying details). Life is so very short. I’m blessed beyond my wildest dreams and wish the same for all of you who wait for the perfect story, the money for the perfect editor or the courage to make mistakes along the way and fix them.
So, if you’re looking for a book to spend some time in may I suggest The House on Tenafly Road?
Heartbreaking, inspiring and captivating post-Civil War saga. When morphine-addicted veteran John Weldon marries into the comfortably suburban McCullough family on the eve of Reconstruction and the Indian Wars, life gets complicated. How will Weldon hide his addiction from the family he resents and admires, keep his standing in the army and find the strength to survive the tragedies that come when loving others? John Weldon spends a lifetime journeying across the frontier only to find that he already has a home.
The House on Tenafly Road is the first book of The Tenafly Road Series about the Weldon and Crenshaw families of Gilded Age New Jersey. BUY THE BOOK TODAY and begin a journey of love, faith and forgiveness!
PS~ I had to re-edit this piece for at least one misplaced “e.” Sigh.
19 responses to “Editing: A Love Story”
So interesting to read the story of your process, Adrienne. I posted a link to this piece on my Facebook page.
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Great reviews. If it’s any consolation, after my editor had given me two edit passes and a proof on my current ms, I still found two typos and misspelled word.
The more you look the more you find!
Some readers notice EVERYTHING. Others nothing at all 🙂
Now when I read a traditionally published book and find a grammar or typo error I feel weirdly happy!
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This is exactly why I started my affordable editorial service. (Not advertising here!) I’d been reading so many indie books with “issues” that I thought I had to help somehow. The problem is that editors who aren’t focused mainly on self-publishers charge so much that it’s utterly budget-busting. Sure, they need to make a living, but come on!
Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. It’s tough out there!
Advertise away! If I knew you existed way back when . . . but then the man who I hired gave me my first outsider’s opinion of the novel. His enthusiasm was worth the money I think 🙂
I will definitely keep you in mind for my next edit, Kevin.
Enthusiasm goes a long way!
And best of luck finishing your next book too … 😉
Thanks, Kevin. It’s why I’ve very rarely been able to stay at one job for long–my enthusiasm is fleeting. One year I’m a great teacher and the next bored out of my mind. Finally I’ve found writing and farming to be endlessly interesting (writing for over ten years now with no boredom yet! Huzzah!).
When did you know you were a writer?
Oh gosh. Maybe at 16? 17? I still have some things I wrote in those days — never for eyes other than my own! 👀
Writing and farming sounds like a damn great combo!
A characteristically passionate, wise and candid account of being a writer, and all its complicated relationships with real and imagined characters, with audience and self-expression, with supportive family and not always impartial critics.
I think under-estimating the necessity of a good editor is the downfall of many self-published e-books and applaud you for highlighting the problem.
I am still – despite life’s lessons – sentimental enough to treasure beyond price the daughter-in-law who designs book covers for you “as if she lives inside your head”.
Love and admiration from England, as ever.
Your comment made my day, Pippa! Love back to you and hoping you’re well.
After a lifetime of putting off living until everything was perfect it’s still shocking to me to find that the messes we get into by living fully are so much more bearable than the ones thrust upon us when we live in fear.
Yet somehow my natural state is to fall back into the fear! But push on we must.
I don’t know how actors survive performing so out in the open! Once I was forced to participate in a mime performance, and it was mortifying! But is miming acting? Probably not.
Has fear ever stalked you while performing? I wish I could see you in something one day.
As soon as I met my daughter-in-law I was in love! She’s sweet, but not too sweet, and very talented. My son chose well!
My father was SO SENTIMENTAL–I couldn’t possibly escape it. A cross to bear. 🙂
Good night to my English kindred spirit.
Congratulations! Following your heart and taking courageous steps to realize your dream paid off. You are brave to admit your mistakes and take measure to correct them. I like the benefits of having an editor. I’m often blind-sided when it comes to my own work.
I always kick myself that I didn’t send my children to college to be editors! LOL. I could guilt them to do my books for free (or a dinner out :))
It’s so amazing what we don’t see–like using the same word in the consecutive sentences. Sigh. Life’s one big, fun adventure! (and I’ve spent most of my life a coward). I still have yet to master selling.
Hope you’re doing well, my friend!
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A good reader is every writer’s best friend. (Wait–did I get the apostrophe right?) 🙂
LOL. How’s things?
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Intense. Family, school, work, ducks. And you?
Milking goats, making cheese, taking care of new foster kid. I’m exhausted!
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Adrienne, it seems you wrote a book from your heart. The reviews are positive with regard to the quality of your story and your writing style. Excellent, IMHO.
I think that even with traditional publication, you, the writer, have to check the galleys before the final printing.
yes, but you can blame someone else! LOL. The more I read about trad. publishing the more I think I’m not suited to it–especially the long waiting ( though I’d love someone to market my books better than I do).
15 years ago I set out to write a cynical, short book about missionaries–I didn’t think I had a big book in me and I thought I had to be hipster-ish to be a novelist. Luckily I came to my senses and just let me be me. 🙂 Turns out I have a lot more faith in and love for people than I realized!
have a great weekend, Sharon.
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