I’m well on with my edits now, having completed about 80% of the changes I think I need to make to satisfy the comments from the publishers, but now I’m getting to the end of the first re-draft, I’m reaching the point I always do, which is trying to overcome the crippling self-doubt (CSD) that I’ve just ruined the book.

This is quite a normal process for me (and from what I hear, from other writers,) but it’s still one of the least fun parts.  For me, the feedback/editing process has gone something like this:-

  •          You think you’ve finished the book, and send it off to someone – agent, friend, publisher etc.
  • You get feedback which says they really like it, but which suggests the book needs changes.
  • First you’re a bit indignant – it was fine. You checked everything. They just don’t understand.  They’re criticising some of the most important bits! Weren’t they paying attention?
  •   Then you think more objectively.  Especially if you’re talking to another writer, an agent or an editor. They know what they’re talking about.  They want your book to be good. This is help you’re getting, not an attack on your work.
  • You re-read the book with their feedback in mind – and to your horror, you realise that you agree with them.  It’s so obvious. How did you miss it? What were you thinking, sending out a book with such obvious flaws?
  • Then comes the procrastination. I can make this bit last for quite some time with the right motivation (e.g. knowing there’s a lot of work to do.)  You know you have big changes to make, but it means so much of the structure needs to change that you put it off. Perhaps convincing yourself that you’re “considering what to do.” In my case, it was the Christmas holidays and I was considering mince pies, wine and turkey sandwiches at least as much as any editorial changes.
  •  At some point – if you’re serious – you finally start work.  This time, I went over a plan (with input from a number of very special individuals who I mentioned last time) and annotated the book in the areas it needed to change. I realised I had a pretty daunting task once I’d got to the end, but at least I understood the size of the issue and what needed to change.  It’s only when I properly get a feel for the new shape the book has to be that I can make sensible edits.
  • Finally I took a deep breath and got started.  I’ve made significant changes to the middle section, which the publishers had concerns over and have happily had Lu Hersey on standby to give me instant feedback and suggestions on my changes, which has been invaluable. 
  • The last stage is the ending of the book, where I am - which I need to change to insert a major plot development I had been saving for book 2, but still keep the main elements at the end that were there already.  I think I’ve figured out how, but now comes the CSD that I mentioned at the beginning.  The little voice that says “It was better before – you’ve totally ruined it.”  I know that eventually, when I feel happy that I’ve slotted in the changes to my satisfaction, the voice will fall silent (or at least be muted), but until then, Mr CSD will be my constant writing companion. 
Once it’s all done and I’m happy with all the changes (for “happy” read “unable to think of a better way to do it”,) I’ll run a word count and see just how much these changes have increased it beyond an acceptable level.    

That'll be the start of Edit pass 2 – “
Operation de-bloat.” Where the language will be checked for the superfluous words that always sneak in when you add new stuff and every passage will be weighed and judged if it absolutely has to be in the book, especially in light of the new changes.  Anything that doesn’t make the grade will be cut ruthlessly (even if I cry a bit when I have to do it.)

Then we’ll be back to the point where I send it out to writer friends/my agent for feedback and pray that the whole cycle can be completed more quickly the next time (we live in hope.)