Wednesday, April 8, 2009

No Such Thing As Perfect

I'm sure many of you, like me, are trying to make your manuscripst as perfect as possible before submitting anywhere. Take a deep breath.

Your perfect manuscript will be changed.

That's right. Most agents suggest revisions and so do most editors. The story you love? The one you've sweated over, tweaked, edited line by line? It will CHANGE. Why? Because there's no such thing as perfect.

Jen posted a link the other day. Check out this guy's revisions.

Strangely enough, this bit of news relieves me. How about you?




*A different Jen is giving away some Joyce Meyer DVDs. Leave a comment to be entered in her contest.*

42 comments:

Kristen Painter said...

I'm always open for change. I expect it. So the idea of it doesn't bother me. It's hard to be upset by something you know is coming.

Jessica said...

Very true. I know it's coming to and in a way it's a relief that a mistake or misplaced scene won't keep me from getting a contract. (not that I'm still doing everything as perfect as possible)

anita said...

Hey Jessie!

Please say it ain't so. No such thing as perfect??? Heh.

I read somewhere that Tolkien was a raving perfectionist with his books; he even felt like Lord of the Rings was never perfected to the point of publish-worthy. Though we all know better, right?

Anyway, when I got my agent, I knew from the get-go I was going to have to make some changes, because she ran them by me on our phone conversation when she offered representation. And even now, after sending it out to several pubs and getting feedback, I'm starting to see another set of revisions taking form.

So, I don't know that it gives me comfort, per say. It's just part of the biz and I realized it going in so I just deal and roll with the punches, you know?

Terri Tiffany said...

I've gotten used to that one! When I submit now to Chicken Soup, I let the editor do whatever she wants to so she doesn't even ask anymore!

anita said...

Oh, and Jessie, GO YOU on the word count! You're almost to the halfway point. WOW!

jessie said...

Yes I have to second that. 20,000 words. That's awesome! And I'm very excited that I'm the sixth comment today instead of the eightieth. You are just too popular.

I haven't reached the point of revisions on my manuscript yet, but I see why knowing your ms will still change would relieve you.

Aprilynne Pike posted a great post about what her editors letter was like and what kind of changes her editor suggested.

Good luck!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Oh, thank you, I need this!!

But doesn't all the editing ever get tiring to you, too? And how do you decide that it's close enough to perfect to start submitting?

That's the toughest question I have.

Jody Hedlund said...

Your comment reminds me of the story of Karen Witemeyer on Rachelle Gardner's blog today. She had to totally rewrite her story to center it around a Dress Shop. Talk about having to make changes!!

I'm hoping if an editor ever likes my story, I won't have to make such drastic changes! But I'm sure there will be a LOT!

Windsong said...

Very true. The thing I worry about the most is after it's in print. Then, since I will have grown as a writer, I won't be able to go back and fix all the mistakes that are glaring at me.

*sigh*

But that Perfectionism Bug. She's mighty persuasive...

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

I discovered that no matter how hard I try there will be changes. Every author has mentioned having to go through their already-contracted manuscript to make revisions.

One person told me it was a good sign when editors make changes. It means they think the material has promise.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

Anita, I have never ever heard that about Tolkien! Amazing.
That's true about rolling with the punches. This is a career in which we need to stay flexible. Definitely.
btw, I love your stories. When you get the Call, we're going to have a blogging bash! :-)

Jessica said...

LOL Terri! Good for you. When I freelanced for the newspaper I didn't even realize at first that the editor was changing stuff. I eventually discovered that my writing wasn't perfect. *snicker*

Jessica said...

Ha! Jessie, you crack me up! Me, popular? I promise that is a word that has never been used in conjunction with my name. LOL Okay, wait. There was a brief stint in fifth grade...
LOL
Thanks for the link! I'm going to check it out at the kids' naptime.

Jessica said...

Eileen,
Well, I'm kind of bad. I do what I can and then I realize I'm going to keep editing and editing if I don't stop. LOL So, I write the story, but usually backedit a bit. That's when I open it up, I'll go back a few pages and reread what I wrote and make adjustments. Then I print up the whole book and go through it with a pen. Then I sit down and reenter changes, but even then there will be more changes. After that, I give the whole manuscript to some trusted writer friends so they can maybe find the big stuff.
You have to remind yourself that you'll never be published if someone doesn't see your manuscript. It has to be sent in eventually.
You're on your fourth. I've no doubt that you have something that could be sent as a synopsis and query. It doesn't matter if the writing is perfect because all Love Inspired wants to know about first is the story.
I hope you'll try something. :-) Do you enter contests? That's a good way to see if your writing is ready. Also, try sending some queries to agents. That will help too. :-)

Jessica said...

Hi Jody,
That's so funny! I wanted to read Whitemeyer's post but didn't have time so I was going to wait.
Yeah, it seems like even if an editor loves something there will still be changes.

Jessica said...

LOL Windsong! I'm not even sure I'll read my story once it's in print. I just know I'll find stuff that'll make me want to slap myself in the head!
Perfectionism is persuasive, that stinker.

Jessica said...

Susan,
I hope so! I don't mind changes if there's a contract. :)

Jessica said...

Eileen,
I forgot to mention that I have a crit group. So that's more revisions. But eventually they have to stop. You know?

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oh yeah, I am totally good with the whole it will never be perfect and something else can always be changed view of writing.

I do sooooo many (like that I lose count) revisions, and even when I decide something is the final draft, I always have a little mental asterisk after it, because there is always the possibility to come back and change something else.

Jessica said...

Hi Kate,
Revisions stink after awhile. How many times can we redo something? LOL A million. That's why it's great to get an outside view. Oftentimes crit partners find stuff I'd never even noticed.
Hope your writing is going well.
:-)

Dara said...

I'm the same way: relieved.

Other eyes catch things that I would never be able to on my work because I'm too closely tied to it. So I would be happy for something that would make the story flow better.

Of course this is all before I actually get said revisions--I may be saying something else when the editorial letters come. :P

Lady Glamis said...

Yes, it is a relief. Nothing is ever perfect, but sometimes we have to get to that "perfect" point before we can feel our work is at least ready to send out, if that makes sense.

Jessica said...

Ha! I agree Dara. An agent or editor's suggestion most likely will be gold to me. There's always the chance that they won't fit, but from what I've heard the majority of authors value their editorial advice. I'm looking forward to the day when I have revisions. :-)

Jessica said...

That makes "perfect" sense, L G.
:-)

Jen and Kev said...

Jessie:
thanks for this encouragement. I tend to change so much i end up making things worse at times! Arggghhh!
Thanks for the link to my contest; i only have 5 entrants so far...
Jen

Jessica said...

Hey Jen,
Well, hopefully you'll get more now. :-)

quixotic said...

Ahh, music to my ears. I am relieved to hear that utter perfection does not have to be attained first. he he he My manuscript is far from perfect.

Cindy said...

I've been trying to prepare myself for this for...nearly a year. I am anxiously awaiting my first round of editing from my editor. I think I've gone from worrying that she will hate it and change everything to being excited that what is changed will make my book and my idea soooo much better than it started off. I really want my first book to be a good representation of the way I write and the kinds of stories I tell. It won't be perfect, like you said, but being CLOSER to perfect works for me :)

Jessica said...

Hey Quixotic,
Isn't it nice to let go of our controlling nature? *snicker*

Jessica said...

Hi Cindy,
How exciting for you! First round of editing, huh? That would be nerve-wracking. I hope you'll let us know how things go. Ease our minds, maybe... :-)

Irritable Mother said...

Can you hear me laughing???
When I read your first line, something wasn't working with my eye and I missed the comma. So I read, "I'm sure many of you like me..." And I thought, Well, Jessica is feeling very self-confident today!
Don't get me wrong. I DO like you!!! *grin*

As to the changes on a manuscript, it can be painful, but I think it leads to a better work. The tricky part is not taking it personally.

Lynnette Labelle said...

I've heard you still need to make your ms as perfect as possible or they won't touch it. Apparently, getting published (or an agent) was a lot easier many moons ago before computers. Now everyone and their dog think they can write a book just because they know how to type.

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Jessica said...

Karen,
That is right on the dot! It's NOT personal. Not at all. Writers are a mushy lot but we have to learn to distance ourselves from our work. Great point.
LOL about the comma. Self-confident? I guess that's a nice way to put it...

Jessica said...

LOL Lynette. I think you might just have a point. *snicker*

Heather said...

Hey Jessica!
I know what you mean about it being a relief sometimes to know that your ms will be changed. Even if you don't necessarily like the changes, it'll prolly be for the better.
BTW thanks for checking out my blog...sorry it took me so long to get back to checking out yours!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Perfection (or the ideal) ain't all it's cracked up to be, says the crazy writer lady with her Christmas tree still up. :)

Jessica said...

Hi Heather,
Thanks for taking the time to comment. I think it's very cool that someone as young as you already is getting ready for this business. Good luck!

Jessica said...

Haha! Angie, you're not crazy. I can't believe your tree is still alive. That's amazing.

Terri Tiffany said...

I'll be there tonight! Looking forward to it too!

Jessica said...

Yay! :-)

Kerrie McLoughlin said...

that relieves me, too. doing the little e-book drove me nuts b/c then i found typos later. i HATE finding typos in professional books ... i circle them in red, even if they are library books. i'm so bad!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I was VERY lucky -- BB loved the book as it was/is -- there was very little change and then those changes were just minor thing -- of course, I'd worked my arse off to get it "right" -- now the second one - who knows....but, with this one they said it was well-done -- *whew* -- Yup, I did luck up!