Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Finishing a Book: Ditch the Ego, Act on the Criticism, Pick the Hills to Die On

Well, I’ve done it, and I’m pretty pleased with myself. I finally finished the remaining three chapters of my next book (Whistle Stop: How 31,000 Miles, 352 Speeches and 6 Bright Young Men Saved the Presidency of Harry Truman, due fall 2014 - watch this space). Well, kinda. In fact, what I really did was send the rest of the first draft to the two generous souls who are reviewing my manuscript. 

Now for the fun part. And by fun, I mean death-to-the-ego-and-all-my-hopes-and-dreams. Unfortunately for me, some editors just want to watch the world burn

You see, soon enough my inbox will light up with e-mails, containing page after page of edit afflicted prose. And with each new comment, redline and question, I will die a little. Or at least my ego will. 

In a perfect, pain-free world, writers could just churn out a bunch of words, revise them ourselves and then fling them out to the unsuspecting public. Oh, wait, we can. I keep forgetting about self-publishing. 

But alas, those of us who go the traditional route of talking an academic or trade press into publishing our portable monuments to how smart we think we are, are resigned to several months of editorial torture that we willingly brought upon ourselves. 

Here are a few tips to get you through the process:

Accept That You’re Too Close

The trouble with you editing, re-editing, and re-re-editing your manuscript is that you’re wed to it. You breathe it. It wakes you up at odd times of the night, then scolds you for forgetting to put your tablet/notepad & pen beside the bed, you clot. No matter how objective you think you’re being, believe me, you’re not. That’s why you asked those poor saps to read it through with a wary eye and a warning finger before you subjected your editor to the horrors of a hundred thousand unbalanced, repeated, bloated words. 

Click here to read the rest of this post via the blog of Boston University's The Historical Society. 

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