I am still working on The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife and Her Heart’s Desire. (The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife is now with the first proofreader. I am done with the major portion of editing it.) Anyway, these two books were done about the same time last month with a week variation between the two. It’s now mid-May, and you’d think I would have completed everything I need to, but you’d be wrong to assume this. The editor is very proficient with her job, and she had the books back to me in a short time. The hold up is all on my end.
It’s hard to explain how painful the editing process is for me. Yeah, to the world, I look like I am sitting at a computer and doing nothing, but mentally, I feel like I’m running a marathon. I have to pace myself because rushing (or sprinting) will cause me to burn out or shut down so I can’t keep going. I can’t seem to do more than three chapters in one day. If I do, I need to spend at least one day sleeping or watching TV to relax my mind. It’s draining. I’m going through and checking everything in the books while taking into considering that editor’s recommendations. This is before the proofreaders kick in. I had an easier time rewriting the Regency than I am editing. The easy part is writing. The real work is in polishing the books up.
Back in the 8th grade, my English teacher (Mrs. Harner who was the best teacher ever) told the class the hardest part of writing is editing, and at the time, I thought she was nuts because creating the story seemed like the biggest hurdle. And when writing was brand new to me (Mrs. Harner was the one who inspired me after I found an interest in reading thanks to Sweet Valley High books), I did focus more on establishing the story to make sure all plot points connected and did a ton of rewriting. This was what I did in high school and college. Thank God self-publishing wasn’t big back then because those early stories sucked. LOL But you got to start somewhere.
I have found the more I write, the more I get particular about polishing my work. Granted, some people don’t think I produce quality work, but I endeavour to do better with every new book I write. I don’t take short cuts to publish a book. I made that mistake early on when I did fantasy and thrillers. I even made that mistake with Todd’s Bride/Ann’s Groom (which is now Falling In Love With Her Husband), Can’t Help Falling In Love (which is now With This Ring, I Thee Dread), and Winning the Heart of Adrienne (which is now Romancing Adrienne). I went back and rewrote all of those books, and those were all in the first year I was writing romances. I learned the hard way how necessary it is to slow down and get the book right the first time. A typo that slips through is easy to fix, but a book that got derailed because I refused to stop and rewrite it is a lot harder to bounce back from.
And just so everyone knows, I try very hard to clean up typos. I don’t like there to be any imperfections in my books, but you know, even though I have an editor and a couple of proofreaders and go through the books twice myself, there are times when one or two things slip through anyway. It’s extremely frustrating, and I do fix it and reupload the book when I find out about it. This is why I like being in charge of formatting my own books. Then if I have to change something, it’s easy. I’ve heard people have changed something in a book that was formatted by someone else and ended up screwing up the formatting. The whole process is tricky, and this is why I agonize over all the details so I can do it all myself.
Yeah, I self-publish. I turned down a chance to traditionally publish and I turned down two offers from authors to refer an agent my way to find a traditional publisher. The reason I self-publish is because it’s my first choice. I love everything about it. I love creating my titles, my covers, my plots, and having the final say over what does or doesn’t happen in my books. I’ve talked to several authors who felt bad about compromising their beliefs but did because it’s what the publisher wanted. Well, that’s not for me. I’m stubborn, and I need the books to be done my way. And when I decided to drop querying agents and publishers back in 2009, I vowed that I would never compromise my books for anyone. I was laughed at and ridiculed and pleaded with by others who didn’t agree with my decision. But it’s something I wanted to do so I did.
You know, I’m a firm believer is pursuing our dreams. I always think of the story of the person on his death bed who thinks of all the stuff he never did because he let fear hold him back. I don’t want to be that guy. I’d rather try and fail than never try at all. And there will be failures along the way. I’ve tried many things that didn’t work out. Pen names, editing for others, co-authoring a book, the Nook blog, the story blog, and other projects that fizzled out. But I did other things that worked. I never thought writing romances would take off like it did. After I wrote my first romance, I expected to go back to fantasies. But then I got my second idea and then a third and before I knew it, I had more ideas than the time to write them. I tried my hand at my own covers, and while the first few attempts sucked, I like where I’m at today, though I still need to tweak on how I do them. My most notable achievement was stepping out of my comfort zone and going online to find a guy to marry back in 1999. People called me a loser for stooping to the level where I was answering personal ads on the Internet and telling me to wait for him to magically fall into my lap. But I ignored them and replied to (I think) thirty guys whose ads made me think they were decent enough. (These were guys in my area. Long distance stuff wasn’t for me.) And in July, I’ll have been married for 12 years and have four children.
So I say ignore the naysayers and follow your dreams. So what if people think you’re crazy or stupid? It’s not their life to live, and it’s not their choice to make. Why wait for life to happen to you when you can go out there and make it happen? Step out of the comfort zone and seek new experiences. I can’t say all experiences are going to end well, but I’m much better for having gone through them. There are days where I get bummed out, but that’s a normal part of the human experience. Overall, I’m glad I’m where I’m at and wouldn’t have it any other way. I think that’s the key to pursuing your dreams. When you do, you feel satisfied with your life.
Okay, so I never meant to go on that tangent about pursuing one’s dreams when I started this post, but it evolved into it for some reason. Maybe I needed to hear it to remind myself that the pain of editing is worth it in the end. 😀 Or maybe someone who is reading this is stuck between choosing two paths: one path that is comfortable and safe (but not very exciting) and another path that is scary and uncertain (but what they really want to do).
I’ll stop rambling and go to sleep. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll be able to complete the last chapter of Her Heart’s Desire so it can go to the the proofers.