I just received the copy edit on my current book, One Last Time. I hired a woman named Eliza Dee of Clio Editing Services to give the manuscript a once-over. I figured she’d find something every few pages, it’d take me a day, maybe less to make the changes.
She found something on every single page worth commenting on, or suggesting a change to, or giving me a dope slap for. Every. Single. Page.
I’m grateful for Eliza’s attention to detail, of course! This is exactly what I paid her for. The book is going to be better thanks to her scrutiny. It makes me think, though–
In a way, it’s like getting married.
One day, there you are, a single guy, pretty happy with yourself, confident, self-assured. Then you meet a woman who seems to like you as much as you like yourself, just the way you are.
You get married and this adoring woman subtly… slowly… begins the process of critique. You find that you have a habit that seems to be a bad one. You discover that an aspect of your personality that you’d considered “charmingly eccentric” turns out to wear thin after a few months. Another quirk turns out not to be so much of a quirk as a deadly defect requiring an emergency recall and repair.
I feel as if I’ve married off my manuscript. It will be better for the experience, absolutely. There is no doubt about it, just as there is no doubt that getting married makes men into better persons.
I just hope that it doesn’t come out of the process all sullen and sad and longing for those carefree days of bachelorhood when nobody cared if it mixed a tense or made careless use of pronouns.
Will it sulk off on Friday nights to some man(uscript) cave where it will drink beer and savagely rearrange its antecedents? Will it start haunting bars with fellow manuscripts where they exchange complaints about their nagging authors?
“So I dangle a participle now and again, who’s it hurt?” one of them says, obviously in his cups.
“I like skipping from ‘he’ to ‘they’ and back again,” says another.
“Hey, who doesn’t?” says the first. “Nobody’s gonna notice, and nobody who notices cares.”
“I hear ya, brother,” my manuscript says, raising a glass. “I hear ya.”