Thursday, September 7, 2017

Editing Your Own Writing. Can You Ever Be “Done”?

This was the title of a blog post I came across today. Read the full story here.

When is a book finished? And other writerly ponderings…
I finished the first draft of my first novel, Art and Soul, back in November 2014. I spent two months editing, then sent the manuscript to my first two readers. While they were reading, I read a couple of books on self-editing and realized I’d committed a lot of glaring errors.
I used my readers’ feedback and what I’d learnt from the books to do another complete manuscript “fix”. I then sent this draft to more readers. Their feedback resulted in more re-writes, particularly to the beginning of chapter 1, which I freely admit I’m still not 100% happy with.
The writer funny by Tom Gauld cartoon writing problems
The title sums up how I have been feeling when editing my memoir. I still have yet to give my current version of my manuscript to others to read. I'd sent my initial one that was only 87 pages to several people, mostly as a PDF by email. None have seen the current version as of yet.  I want to get some feedback on the current one, though I'm not sure who to send it to.  I still have not found a writing group nearby, or found anyone interesting in reading it. And I'm already fretting over finding and being able to afford an editor. I now wonder how many more rewrites I'll feel compelled to do after I get any feedback whatsoever from anyone.  

Proofreading missing words typos cartoon

I didn’t expect to find much to change. And certainly no typos. After all, it’s been past eight beta readers who have all found different small errors which I have fixed. Surely there couldn’t be any more?
Well there were. In fact, by the time I got to “The End” I had made 298 notes (the Kindle comes in useful again!). That’s 298 edit points. Admittedly, many of these are “delete comma” or “check formatting”. But there were also things I remembered I’d never felt quite happy about. For example, there are three chapters (three!) with endings I feel are somehow “weak”.
On the bright side, I found myself drawn to my characters again and genuinely looking forward to the next chapter, even though I know exactly what’s going to happen. I hope this is a good sign. I’m guessing if your own work bores you silly, it’s likely to bore your readers too.
Now this is true of me. Lately whenever I look over even just one chapter of my memoir,  I still see some typos or some necessary word(s) omitted. Things Spellcheck won't catch.  I knew this would occur.  Now I want to know how others, if at all, see my chapters as weak. 

BTW, I've been taking a break from working on my memoir and last night began writing are notes for another story I'd begun several months ago. I've been waiting to work on this one are and now I have.


  1. Good luck with this, Jamie. I can relate. I can ALWAYS find something in my work to re-edit.

  2. Good luck. Knowing when to stop is never easy. And the search for improvement/perfection a hard taskmaster/taskmistress.