I have a confession to make: I am an edit addict. I know, by time standards, I perhaps haven’t edited my manuscript nearly as much as many people I know, but I’ve definitely gotten stuck into it with a chainsaw and sawn that horror movie victim to shreds.
I’ve obsessed over each line, then come back a month later and laughed at how ridiculous my new edits sounded. Gosh. I am such a bad writer. Did I really think that was the best I could do? Sheesh!
I’ve mad major plot changes, and minor ones. I’ve fleshed characters out, I’ve killed some off (metaphorically… literal unplanned death in my contemporary YA probably would require a little more explanation than “Where’s Laura today?” “Oh, she died,” casually explained in the school cafeteria).
I’ve also had some fabulous Critique Partners who have given me incredibly useful feedback and suggestions, which has helped me with my edit addiction tenfold. It’s made me laugh at myself, and my excessive use of the word ‘looking’, as well as my addiction to my lead male character’s super sexy arms.
The point is, though; when is enough, enough? Recently, I had feedback from a writing community member that it felt like my story started too far out from the inciting incident. Prior to that, I’d changed it to add more character in the first chapter, making you fall in love with my heroine before the incident happens, again on advice from someone else in writing land who I respect.
Now I’m sitting here thinking – ah! Should I lose the character additions and go back to the earlier incitement? Or keep the character and maybe just try and smoosh that into my incitement and, dear God, is any of it any good, anyway? Is it worth querying at all? I’m on the edge of a cliff and I don’t want to dive over and send my precious, hard work out there, out into the abyss of query land, because it may not be the very, very best it can be yet!
Having said that, will I ever really love it? Will I ever think ‘This is just perfect?’
And the thing is, I just don’t know. I’ve deleted manuscripts before, written them off as Not Good Enough. Is the problem still them? Or is the problem me?
Maybe I’m editing because it’s easier than jumping off the cliff. Maybe it’s time I did one last, final, billion and tenth edit and gave the thing a chance to fly off the cliff and maybe land in the arms of a perspective agent or editor.
In 2013, I hope there’s more cliff jumping for me and for you. I think we could all do with a little more putting ourselves out there and taking a writing chance or two.