Do You Believe in the Limits of Perfect?
The first round of edits arrived from my publisher for my romance novel, Love Built to Last, due for release in 2015. This is the first book in the “Fireflies” series, so I was excited to get the editing process underway. This first go-round was just grammar fixes on their end, but the acquisitions editor told me to make any and all changes I deemed necessary prior to sending it back for the second round of editing.
Piece of cake, I thought. After all, before ever submitting the manuscript, I revised, edited, revised, edited, revised, edited, ad nauseam for months. By the time I stuck a query letter in front of it, the damn thing was picture perfect.
Wait a second. Wait. Did I really think—? Did I really say—?
Oh, geez. Hold on a sec . . . *snort* *snuffle* . . . *wipes away tears of hilarity*
Hehehehehe. Ah . . . *sigh*
Okay, okay. I’m back.
To my credit, the editor complimented my grammar skills, and her suggestions and changes were minimal. But perfect? PERFECT? Oh, Buttercup. *palm to face*
When I opened the file I thought, “I spent so many hours editing and revising this thing, it’ll be a breeze to go through.”
Uh, yeah. Not so much. Because guess what? The learning never ends, and between completing the manuscript at the end of last year and opening the publisher’s editing document twelve months later, a few things have changed.
See, in that space of time I’ve done a lot of reading, have attended conference workshops, and talked to other authors. I’ve completed a second full novel and have begun a third. I’ve learned a ton of stuff in the last year, so opening that document and reading the manuscript—well, it was an eye opener. I saw everything I didn’t know when I wrote that book.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my novel and I’m proud of what I’ve written. I adore the characters and the story. But the simple truth is that no matter how much editing and revising I do, no manuscript will ever be perfect. It will only ever be “The Best of Me Right Now.” And that’s okay, because I figured out something super important: “Perfect” means there is a ceiling to the quality of our work, but without it, there are no limits! Dumping “perfect” gives us permission to light the fuse and just keep going up. This can apply to anyone, in any line of work. There will always be things to learn, always opportunities to get better at what we do, no matter what that is. That’s exciting!
You’ve come this far, so it’s only fair to give you an example of what I saw in my novel that required fixing. Here it is: My characters do a lot of squeezing. That’s right. Squeezing. Squeezing hands, squeezing arms, squeezing shoulders. See, in Lisa Land, squeezes are like sneezes: spontaneous and necessary. I am a squeezer in real life. Seriously. I squeeze so much I should come with a warning label. So it’s no wonder that I show my characters’ empathy, concern, appreciation, affection, by squeezing. Squeezing is good. Too much squeezing? Well, I made myself giggle when I went on a search and destroy mission and saw just how much squeezing I wrote into this book. I told my critique partner, author Terry Lynn Thomas (watch for her mystery novel, The Spirit of Grace, to debut in 2015), and she said it was a good thing they weren’t picking their noses. Haha! (Maybe I’ll save the nose picking for a middle grade novel.)
What words, phrases, and/or actions do you see overused in books that you read? If you’re a writer, which are you guilty of? Do you believe in Perfect? Please put yourself in the Buff and leave a comment! I love to read your anecdotes and opinions.
Thanks for hanging out with me! Have a wonderful Wednesday, and I’ll see you next week for more of the Naked Truth.