What it was like to be edited for the first time

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It is known in certain circles that I have been writing a book. Some people have even enquired how they can get the book. But it’s not a book yet. It is only a manuscript. It is dubbed: Thrills And Chills: Trudging Through Life. And it’s my first. While I have resented taking too long to have the manuscript done, it is only during editing that it crept on me my hurried frenzy around wanting it published in no time was not serving me so well.

Editing made me ‘stumble on’ a myriad of mistakes my manuscript harbored and some of which were prosaic and I was just too slack to notice and correct. I’m indelibly grateful to my editor for picking the holes in my book and helping me patch them. It will make a great book. I’m positive.

But it did not come across that way just right into the first chapter. Firstly, I scarcely knew how editing worked: just how to track changes and read the comments using word processor and doing the modifications and sending the document back. But she helped and we progressed. Ok well we hardly progressed. We engaged in spats. She critiqued my book in a way that made me incensed. I wanted the whole process to be fast and she apparently didn’t. I wrote to a friend about it: ‘You just don’t know sticky and slow and annoying she has become. She has only done one chapter in a couple of weeks. And she wants things done her way. Sometimes we argue over a word instead of moving on.’

I just couldn’t stand her and neither could she. She wrote telling me that she wanted to help but I was difficult. Now in retrospect I was. I didn’t want to take any criticism, which was fundamentally her work. I was a smart aleck and for barely good reasons, a petulant child.
I whined to the publisher. Rather than look for another editor, he insisted I should be objective. I don’t know what he said to her. But whatever that was, he helped us get along. We did not argue anymore. We stuck to the crux of the editing work. But regardless of that I had trouble again, not with the editor but with the editing. It was thorough, taxing and to a little extent unbearable. She would delete words, sentences and entire paragraphs and it grossed me out. I agreed to some of these changes or just didn’t.

Boniface Sagini

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