Debbie Howells

On editing…

By on 7th February 2014 in Blog Posts
Writing is an endurance test – of the love in your life.  Not just how much you love writing, because it’s hard, time-consuming work, but how much your family really love you, when you spend more time in the world you’ve dreamed up than in the one you share with them.  Guilt levels rising stratospherically higher than the usual sky-high level that every parent knows, when someone says Mum, you’ve asked me that loads of times or I already told you, you never listen and I don’t have any pants.  For the record, I do listen.  Just, when I’m writing, there’s far too much stuff in my head.


The first month of this year has been spent editing – properly, with Juliet’s brilliant insight – polishing, tightening, deleting what wasn’t needed (less really is so often more) and rewriting where the pace needed work.  It’s hard when you work back and forth through something, so many times that your brain feels like spaghetti, and that even you, who wrote it in the first place, can’t remember what happens where.  I now fully understand what it means to lose the plot, because there were times I came close to losing mine.  Different things helped at this stage – Pinterest, because some parts of the book are very visual – and I put a soundtrack together that fitted the story without overly distracting me, both of which I’ll use much earlier with my next book.  And if all else fails, a day away from it too, can work wonders.

I’d no idea what to expect, because it was the first time I’d had any proper, editorial input.  Many people have taken time to review my self-published books and yes, I always read what they write, know I’m not supposed to, but can’t help it.  The really lovely ones give me a warm fuzzy feeling and yes, the scathing ones make me question my sanity and remind me how subjective all this is.  But I’m aware that my books could be better, which means listening to people who know.

If I’m honest, I wondered how I’d feel about someone highlighting weaknesses or suggesting changes, but I knew also,  that someone else would see things I couldn’t.  And it’s wonderful working with someone who loves my book.  Someone who answers emails practically as soon as I send them.  As well as that, Juliet found the gremlins that I’d kind of buried away and tried to forget about, while making other suggestions that made it a better book.

some would argue sad animals =/= ugly animals. they would be wrong, as evidenced by this fine specimen.

Immersed in editing, family (and dogs, cats etc) neglected, house untidy, washing piling up, larder bare, I found out too, that sleepless nights don’t go away.  One night I woke up, actually in a panic, thinking what if there’s a fire!! (Yes, I know) Only I’d forgotten to email my latest edits to myself – a new habit I try to keep to – every night, emailing the latest updated edit.doc. in case of fires or acts of God or computers crashing, because how awful would that be.  So there I was, lying in the dark, cat curled up next to me, thinking obsessively about my manuscript, yet again.

I discovered also, that the insecurities don’t go away, getting that familiar churning feeling as I pressed send, winging the latest edits off to Juliet.  What if she didn’t like them?

But luckily she did and in the end, we got there quite quickly.  And at the end of January, the latest tweaks done, that very same afternoon I sent it to Juliet, my manuscript was on it’s way to publishers.

And then it got even more AMAZING…

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