Talk is cheap
It is time for an editor.
If it were that easy. Just like any piece of advice given away, it is given away for a reason. It is easy to say and not easy to do. If you have read this blog for the last year, you know that I have found it to be a challenge to do just that.
Find an editor. Simple to say. As I alluded to, easy to say, harder to hear. When I hear it, I translate it as “find someone to finish raising your children because so far you’ve sucked at it, buddy”.
The kinder, gentler me would advise instead to “Find the point in yourself when you know can’t do your work any good anymore.” Then find an editor. Simplified it, right?
How do you know it is time?
One hears a lot of wisdoms on how many times you should rewrite your work before turning it over to an editor. I’ve heard three the most. I have seen more than that more times more than I’ve seen it fewer times, most of the time. I am currently reading the “Book Relaunch” chapter on editing and their suggestion is “several”. So, how do you know?
I am sure I have completed three passes on my own for my metaphysical road trip novel, Back outta the World. I had not looked at it since last spring. In that time, I had somehow told myself that it was farther along than it was. Not sure how or why I came to that conclusion. Wishful thinking played a big part, I’m sure.
After reading the first page or two, I knew. It was not close to being ready to leave. I had no choice but to go back in full edit mode. The first couple paragraphs told me that my memory was faulty. I had not changed narrative voice in some spots. There was way too much showing and not enough telling. This child still needed me.
Your time has come
The reason I had been excited to get back to ‘Back outta the World‘ in the first place was that I have recently finished a shorter work, Ironjaws. Ironjaws is awaiting editing by a professional at the end of this month.
I can do no more for Ironjaws. It has resisted attempts to be a novel. It has evolved, changed, gained gravitas and even developed a sense of humor. I love it of course, but that’s what I’m supposed to do and how I’m supposed to feel about it.
But how to know it’s done? How to be sure it is ready for an editor? How to know when to stop writing and self – editing? How to know this child will not move back into his/her old room? The most decisive way is to experience what I did- realize that I have had NO urge to go back and tinker with it. None. No separation anxiety, if you will. My Ironjaws file has been sitting at this very keyboard, at my fingertips and been ignored for about a month now.
We both know it is time
It is the same with parenting. If you sacrifice your own time, truly give of yourself while raising your kids, then they are secure enough in themselves that when they are ready to leave, you know you’ve done your best. They know they are ready. You say something like, ‘Call if you need anything” but you both no they won’t. If your story or book hasn’t called to you for help, then off it goes. It is telling you it is ready, and who would know better??
If you don’t have older kids who have left the house, then still try listening to your story or novel. Put it away for a time and see if it calls to you. It’s your story and unique to you. You will know.