#SaystheEditor Please Edit

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Author: Susan Helene Gottfried

I opened my inbox the other day to find mail from a client. We’ll call him, of course, Steve. And Steve lurks around here, so don’t be surprised if he outs himself, or hopefully is laughing too hard to do that ’cause I’m about to poke fun at him while making a serious point.

The subject line on Steve’s e-mail said, “Please edit”

Now, from anyone else, this would have been a turn-off. But Steve and I have been working together for years now (He’s one of my favorite clients) and he had originally been hoping to have this book done a year ago. A year!

But what I read into his subject line was something that had been echoed earlier that same week by Stevie, who it turns out is a new client (and thank you to the existing client who referred her, as Stevie is a doll and fast becoming a favorite client). And that’s this: you guys get to a point where you can’t stand to look at your manuscript anymore, and so you’re all too eager to get it off your desk and onto mine.

That’s fine. In Stevie’s case, it came with a set of nerves. This is her first time through the editing process and it’s new, it’s scary.

But for Steve… well, I read a lot of frustration into his comment. I read the whole, “I’ve been staring at the words on the screen and staring and I know I can take it further, but I’m damned if I can see how or where right now, so let’s call in the help and…” and I imagine him throwing his hands up and making unintelligible growling noises.

Or maybe that’s just my kid who does that when he runs low on words and high on frustration.

Yet the point remains: How do I know when it’s time? What happens if I push myself to that point of being too frustrated to speak, and by the time my awesome editor is done with it, I’m STILL not ready to look at it again, but I’m trying to build a readership here, and I’ve already taken more time than I wanted to with this book and… and… and…

Breathe.

Trust yourself. Trust your story, your manuscript, your method. And then breathe some more.

It all works out, and whether your trepidation is from newbie nerves or experienced enlightenment, the only person who can say you’re ready for editing is YOU. And usually, you say you’re ready when you get to that point where you just can’t look at it anymore, you need a break, you need some fresh input.

Beta readers can be good at this stage. Or not. It’s all up to you.

Anyway, I’ve got Steve’s manuscript here, I laughed with fondness at him when I saw that crazy subject line, and for those of you who think you’d never be THAT rude to your editor, well, spend more time with me. Because I know Steve, I don’t think it’s rude at all.

If anything, it made my fondness for the guy grow.

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