An Author's Perspective on Editing
By Gerald Loewen
We are pleased to introduce Gerald Loewen, the author of Burned Alive.
So there you are sitting at your writing desk, with a huge sigh of relief. You remember the day that you became inspired to write a book and started the journey. Now, a year or so later and you have that final manuscript in your hand. A sense of achievement wafts over you as you reflect on what it took to get you here. How many days have you spent six to eight hours at the keyboard? How many times have you had to prioritize your daily schedule because the inspiration was flowing and you dare not leave the work as long as those words are flying off the keyboard?
You talk to your spouse about what’s happening to you, secretly hoping that s(he) will understand the time commitment. You wonder about your friends and relatives. Are they giving you the straight goods on the quality of the draft you sent them? You come to the place where you decide to print it out. This will cost you some ink cartridges but you figure it needs to be done because you can pick up more when it’s laying there in front of you instead of on a computer screen.
You make the changes. You go over it again, and again, and again. Perhaps like me, you have been through it 25 times. You walk away from it knowing you might gain some perspective if you leave it alone for a while. You come back with your editing pencil in your hand and you find yourself saying, “Why did I not pick this up the last time?”
“Oh my, I almost forgot, what about the references, quotes, and citations?” You wonder if you got them all right. You go through it all again for the 26th time; you begin looking again. “Did I get the quotes right, the page numbers, the book publisher data, etc. etc.” In your research for the book, you may have read twenty to thirty books on the subject matter at hand, and if you have written a fact-based book, you become a truth seeking hound dog, relentless in your pursuit of opposing voices from your perspective. You spend hundreds of hours finding reputable works; works you can quote from.
So here you are. You have been on this incredibly long journey. It has seemed like a marathon. You have done the best that you can and you finally get to this point of diminishing returns. You know full well that if you went through it the 27th time that you would find something to change but slowly the realization sinks in that it’s just time to leave it alone.
You actually have this sense of achievement. You have said everything that you feel the Lord wanted you to say. No more research needed. Not even one more book to read. No more countless hours on the internet, looking for quotes and citations. No more editing.
You think to yourself, “Wow, it really is finished.” In your mind, it is a completed work, a masterpiece, a work of art—your creation that should be left alone and no one should touch!
You finally drum up your courage and send your manuscript to your Publishing Consultant. After some preliminaries it is sent to the Editor. The Editor introduces him or herself to you and eventually you get your manuscript back in PDF format literally filled with suggestions, corrections, clarity seeking statements, bad grammar corrected; and it seems to go on and on.
Your baby, your masterpiece, your work of art, has been touched by foreign hands! Initial response is, “Grrrr.” You start telling yourself, “What does this person know anyways, my friends all liked it, I got positive comments all along.” After a few days you settle down.
“This person must be a professional, so I better take a closer look.” Okay, okay, I see it now. My grammar is not all that good which I can’t reconcile with the fair marks in my high school essays. Okay, I could make that clearer. What on earth is this guy talking about, he isn’t making any sense. You start seeing the Editor as your adversary. Surely he must be against you. You reason editing is a made up job, not really needed but gives someone gainful employment, yes, that must be it.
Swallowing your pride, you make the changes. You go back and forth with the editor. You start developing a bit of a relationship with him. Slowly you begin to see that this guy is for you and not against you. Okay, okay, it makes sense what he is saying.
What I thought was a finished work was really just the beginning of a fine-tuning process that the editor and the typesetter will do for you. You start to see the benefits of it all. Your Publishing Consultant talks you through, calms you down, and educates you on the process. Life is good. You get this strange feeling that you even might want to take the editor for a coffee some day!
About this Contributor:
Gerald R. Loewen lives in the Central Kootenays of British Columbia, Canada, with his wife Carolyn. Gerald writes out of his twenty-five years of experience in various roles such as associate pastor, counsellor, teacher, and mentor. He served as Director of Silver Lion Ministries from 2004 to 2018, providing healing prayer and deliverance for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and for women and men who have lost a child due to abortion. His passion is to see the lost saved and to see men and women enter into the fullness of Christ.