Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When Are You Finished Editing?

Today, my guest is Maryn Sinclair. Maryn is a New England native living in the South who loves creating characters who murder, love, hate, and connive, but mostly love. Her novels are erotic, but she hopes readers find that they’re more than about sex, with contemporary characters who are confident, insecure, damaged, recovering, loyal, duplicitous, intriguing, heartbreaking, and every other conflicting adjective known to Roget, hooking readers from the beginning and turning pages until the end.

Leave a comment for a chance to win one of Maryn's books. She'll be choosing two lucky readers. Please check the end of this post for details.

When do you say your book is finished and enough is enough? At the South Carolina Book Festival on May 14, bestselling author Robert Dugoni mentioned that if he had his way, he’d be red-penciling his manuscript as it rolled through the presses. Boy, could I relate. Not that my books are rolling off the presses, because they’re e-books and I’m certainly not in the same class as a bestselling author, but because if someone didn’t set a due date, I’d forever keep editing until I probably sucked the life out of what I liked about my book in the first place. So when do you decide your book is ready to go to print, or e-print?

The question made me think of my very first freelance job as the owner of my own illustration/copywriting business. I’d freelanced for Fairchild Publications, a national chain of fashion newspapers, including Women’s Wear Daily, doing all the illustrations that originated from manufacturers and designers in the New England area. Rarely, the New York paper would publish one of my drawings, but usually they were redrawn and bundled to coordinate with fashion reports from other regional offices around the country. One day, I received a call from an exclusive shop on Boston’s trendiest street, asking me to draw a shoe for their Sunday ad. I decided that this was going to be the best drawing of a shoe ever to hit any newspaper anywhere on the planet. I accepted the job, settled at my drawing board, and began.

“No, that line isn’t quite right,” I said. “It doesn’t have the flow.” I started another drawing. And another. By four in the morning, discarded, scrunched up papers littered the floor around my drawing board. Not one drawing showed the grace I had in my mind’s eye that illustrated what had now become THE DAMN SHOE. I hated every one of them. I was cockeyed, juiced on coffee, miserable that I couldn’t pull off the da Vinci of shoe illustrations. What to do?

It was then I learned a valuable lesson. I drew THE DAMN SHOE. No, it wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was the best I could do right then and meet the deadline that morning. I showered, dressed, and, bleary-eyed, brought the drawing and the shoe to the store. They didn’t see the mess I saw, but what they did see they loved. It began a long association with that store and many more, where I drew everything and anything they advertised.

Given another day or week or month, I may have been able to draw the perfect shoe, but I couldn’t that night. Given another day or week or month, I might have written a better book, or maybe I would have ruined it. Which one I’ll never know, because I had a deadline, and what I’d written was the best I could do at that moment.

Epilogue: I never read my books once they’re in print because I don’t want to see what I could have written better. I’ve heard some actors never watch their movies for the same reason. But I’ve taken everything I’ve learned from writing one book and applied it to the next, just like I did with THE DAMN SHOE. Did I ever draw the perfect shoe or write the perfect sentence? I don’t know. I still obsess—to a point. Then I conclude—this is the best I can do at this moment in time. Not next week or next month, but now. Once I came to that conclusion, I was a lot happier. By the way, the designer shoe illustrations are decades old. First clue: yellowed paper. Second clue: they cost $25. 

Contest details. Winner will be announced this weekend, and you must check back to see if you won. Maryn wants to remind everyone that these are erotic romances. There’s graphic language and, you know, erotic stuff. You can read the first chapter at her website to see if it's for you.

Maryn Sinclair’s books are available at http://www.loose-id.com/Our-Authors/Maryn-Sinclair
You can read the first chapter of each by clicking on the book and then Read an excerpt.
Sexual Persuasion is now available on Kindle. Also, check out her website at: http://www.MarynSinclair.com


Linda Lovely said...

I can relate. I spend 10 (or more) times the amount of effort/time editing and need a deadline (or a critique partner) to tell me to STOP. This was a timely post. I just finished another edit yesterday of the sequel to my published mystery but haven't been able to push the Send button to my publisher. Just one more...Okay, I'm setting a firm deadline for myself. This Friday. Thanks, Maryn.

Maryn Sinclair said...

It's timely for me too, Linda. I should heed my own advice. This time I changed almost everything because I wasn't thrilled with it to begin with. I'm setting a deadline:
Thanksgiving. :-) Thanks for stopping by.

Ellis Vidler said...

Maryn, I think we're all in the same boat. My first drafts are just the starting place. Every time I look at one of my manuscripts, I see something to change. The story comes through in the rewriting, or editing. That's the best part. Just write it down. I heard Nora Roberts say you can always tweak or rewrite your work, but there's nothing to do with a blank page.

Karen said...

I agonize over everything I write -comments, reviews, etc. I can re-write comments on blogs a half dozen times before I'm 'satisfied'. I finally tell myself to get a grip and hit submit~~ :O)

Maryn Sinclair said...

Karen, that's kind of what you have to do. It's that perfectionist gene. I bet it applies to everything you do too. That's not to say we're perfect in those other tasks, but we try to do the best we can. And I don't think it's a bad thing.