Diamond Jubilee at Romance at Random

"The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." Albert Einstein

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Galleys and Perfection

To me, the words ‘galleys’ and ‘perfect’ are mutually exclusive and don’t get along well. Why do I say this?

Well… When I received my galleys for Through the Rabbit Hole, I thought reading this final proof for mistakes would be easy. Uh, no. Perfectionism had to rear its ugly head. Yes, I did catch typos and extra/missing words, but the toughest part was overcoming the urge to change everything.

I’ve edited the story numerous times, but still cringed when I saw certain words in the galleys. How could I have overlooked them while going through my billionth editing round? Had they magically slipped in and took up residence when my computer went to bed for the evening? Does this sound familiar?

How about the following? “Why, oh why, did I write the sentence/paragraph/story this way? That way would’ve been so much better because of this reason or that!”

Not the most pleasant of feelings, but I think most writers ‘have been there, done that’ at some time or another. So when should we halt this madness?

For me, the galleys presented the perfect opportunity. I didn’t want to have a mega-long list of requested changes, so I grabbed my perfectionism and locked it up. Yes, it’s still screaming behind bars, but I’m not listening…too much. I’m a big girl who realizes nothing will be perfect, no matter how many times I change it. The time to let go had come.

I restrained myself to marking down true errors and repeated word choice. In the end, I had sixteen requested changes. That still felt like a lot to me, but my editor, Stephanie, assured me it was not -- and that my obsession with change was normal.

So writers are ‘normal’ in their obsessions, who would have guessed that?

For those of you who write, when do you give up polishing your masterpiece?


Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Kary said...

Since I am not a perfectionist and I have no masterpiece to date, I can't answer your question about polishing. I can see how you could obsess as you go through and rewrite. Hopefully one day I will be able to relate. Today, I will celebrate your success and take your word that it's difficult to let go.

Kaycee Kacer said...

I feel you. The urge to chain things is always there I think it's just us striving to have the perfect book but my inner editor loves to toy with me I had several failed nano attempts because of her but I've learned to shut her off at least until I'm ready to edit then she goes wild and drives me insane lol

Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks, Kary and Kaycee!

Kary--I hope you never get the urge to keep polishing past the point of no return. Shutting off you inner editor can be an invaluable tool, just like knowing when to turn it on.

Kaycee--Yay! I'm not alone. My inner editor doesn't shut up, either.

Brenda said...

LOL, never!!!! Each time I go through my MS I see things to change. I have to stop doing this and just get on with it or my MS will never see the light of day.

Angie Cox said...

I've never been published (yet) but I realize everytime I read through my story, I tweek something. If it is only the way a sentence starts or if it is the whole paragraph, so I do understand what you are saying.

Katie M said...

I can so relate to this. I obsess over the smallest things and change them a million times. Usually I end right back up where I started!

Martha Ramirez said...

I've heard it all before. I've heard authors who choose not to read their work after its pubbed for the same reason. We are constantly learning and growing.
It's hard not over analyze things, but we have to stop some time.
Great post!

Lisa Kumar said...

So I seem to be in the majority here! I can identify with the 'it never ends' and 'ending back up where I started' feeling.

Those authors who don't look at their old work very often--I will be one of them, lol.

Thanks for the replies, everyone.

D'Ann said...

My urge to change stuff is daily. But like Kary, since I have no editor and no materpiece, I'm okay for now.

jennajaxon said...

I am in the "yet-to-be-pubbed" group, but I had trouble stopping the changes before I sent out queries. I am definitely a perfectionist, so I will be a maniac if I ever get to galleys. In some ways a scary post, Lisa.:)

Lisa Kumar said...

D'Ann--that urge is tough to overcome
Jenna--lol, maniac and obsession--what does writing do to us?

Stacy said...

Lisa, definitely agree with this post. I think we are all pretty hard on ourselves in general. At my day job, I stress to my direct reports that I want to know the positive (or what they like about themselves) too. Sometimes I think that in itself is a very tough exercise.

Lisa Kumar said...

Stacey, so true! We're often our harshest critics--in all areas of our life. Thanks for commenting!