I had a new book title, I had the results of the developmental editor. I rewrote, refined, and reread LET ME IN multiple times. People told me I would be sick of the book before I was done with the process, and I began to understand why. I read and reread, line by line. At a certain point I knew I couldn’t do more without going crazy—or taking so much time I’d pass the point of diminishing marginal return.
I know many artists/writers who cannot give up on improving their work. I have heard of writers refining their work by rewriting, editing, tossing manuscripts in the garbage and then starting again.
My family, or some of the members of my family are somewhat like that. Perfectionists. One of my sisters would tell me, “anything worth doing is doing well.” I didn’t disagree, I just didn’t know at what point good was good enough.
How does one know when a piece of work is “done”? As a child I could hear my sister’s words echoing in my brain. It still echoes in my brain.
As I worked in corporate America, I constantly wondered what was “good enough.” I worked harder than most of my peers, stressed about whether I was working enough. In the corporation I worked in, there were few guidelines or role models for me, so it was hard to gauge what was good, and what was over the top good. I did well in corporate America. My work exceeded expectations. But my political saavy, not so good. That’s another story, or rather, that is the story of LET ME IN. But you will have to read the book to find out more.
As I grew and matured in business, I began to understand how much work was necessary to meet the adage, “anything worth doing is doing well.” It became clearer when I was running our technology consulting firm. It crystalizes the process when there are bills to pay. There were many times I had to tell employees that they were spending too much time on a project—that we wouldn’t get paid for the additional refinement, and it was more than the client expected.
This is not to say our work was only marginal. Our work was fine. It was “good enough”. It met expectations. At times it “exceeded expectations”. But as a small business owner there were times good enough was good enough.
Which brings me back to writing. I had taken the input from the developmental editor. I rewrote and refined. I could have continued that process for years, but I decided the price to delay was greater than the return I was expecting. So I moved on to the copy editing stage.
I had two individuals doing the copy-editing work, as it turned out it was a husband and wife team. Their work was fascinating. They went through the book with a fine-toothed comb, looking at every grammatical construct and then referencing the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) when they found things that didn’t follow the CMS rules.
I was horrified at the number of CMS comments came back on the book, but they were kind and told me they often had many more citations in a manuscript. Ultimately it was my decision what to keep and what to change. I acquiesced on most of their catches, but there were some citations I didn’t change based on what I would call “my own style.”
The greatest compliment from both copy editors was that they really enjoyed my book and wished me great success!