It’s now been a full-on month that I’ve cleaned up my diet, kept up my six-day-a-week 20-minute daily exercise routine, and practiced meditation twice a day on most days. It’s probably not a coincidence that I’ve also had an upsurge of productivity with my writing.
One of my greatest accomplishments in the last week is getting the revision of my middle-grade manuscript, Top Dog of K-9 Academy, in tip top shape. I’ve managed to edit an additional 19 chapters and I still have 6 to go, but I fully expect to have a working third draft by June 10th, the deadline I gave myself.
I’ve been debating about whether to get the manuscript professionally edited once it’s in its third draft form. All my research suggests that having outside, qualified eyes look at your manuscript can only improve it. My only hesitation? Edits can cost $3 to $4 (or more) dollars a page, so it is an investment.
Having been raised in a frugal family, I sometimes have a hard time spending money on things I should. However, as my Mom likes to say, “If money solves your problem, then it’s not really a problem.” So the question becomes why don’t I really want to get the manuscript edited?
I think like most aspects of our lives that are beneficial in the long term (e.g., good diet, exercise, stress reduction techniques), there’s not an immediate return on investment with an editing process. But I honestly don’t think it’s a time issue.
I’ve written before about how slow the publishing industry can be and if I take the time to get a professional edit, then, yes, that’s several more weeks before I can start submitting the manuscript to agents and editors. But what difference would a few weeks make, especially if my manuscript is all that much stronger for it.
Other questions that pop up in my mind when I consider getting an editor are: what if I spend the money and I don’t get anything useful out of the edit?; what if the editor says my work sucks?; what if I invest all this time, effort, and money, and the manuscript doesn’t result in a book contract?
But when I really think about it, these are all just fear-based excuses that are getting in the way of achieving my dream of being a published author. If I don’t get an editor, then I can always make an excuse that my manuscript wasn’t ready and I submitted too soon and that’s why it didn’t get published.
Good thing I’m done letting fear get in my way. I spent over a decade and a half stuck in a career that my heart wasn’t really in because I was afraid to try something different. That’s long enough.
I reminded a person I’m very close with the other day that, “Most of what we worry is about is imaginary.” That’s one of the more useful pieces of advice from the intro to psych textbook I used the last time I taught that course, and quite frankly, was the best part of teaching it.
This little piece of advice came up when this person expressed concerns that no one would like them or their chronic illness would get in the way of them having a good experience when they start a new chapter of their lives in the coming months. I then followed up my advice by providing a list of other things that could also happen to them in the coming months, including:
Being liked so much by everyone, that they want you to quit school and work for them full-time;
Meeting Leonardo DiCarpio, who falls in love you at first sight so then you have a relationship dilemma with Leonardo and your current boyfriend; and
Finding escaped pandas from the zoo and hiding them in your bathtub because they’re too precious to return.
My point with all these was that anything could happen in the coming months, so you might as well focus on the wacky and wonderful.
Advice I really need to take to heart, then, because if I allow myself to think rationally about my fears, I already know the answers to them:
1) Of course having my manuscript edited wouldn’t be a waste of time; I know what to look for in an editor and I understand what to expect in the editing process.
2) If I really thought my worked suck (and in retrospect I can now say that, yes, some of my past work has sucked), then I would edit and revise it myself until I felt it was good enough to send to an editor.
3) I have no time limit in achieving my goal of being a published author. Yes, I want this sooner rather than later, but I was also once told that, “It’s not my job to manage God’s plan for me.” Meaning, I don’t have to worry about the “how’s;” I just need to keep taking steps in the right direction and believe that everything else will work itself out. Which, it will. Because my mom also likes to say, “Everything always works out in the end. And if it doesn’t, that means it’s not the end.”
So as I wait for the details to work themselves out, I will keep on with what I’ve been doing – prioritizing my health and well-being to keep my productivity flowing, writing and editing my own stories, reading and studying other stories to help improve my craft, playing with dogs because that makes me really happy, and getting my manuscript professionally revised. I look forward to sharing more about this process in the coming weeks.