On Editing A Book

Years back, when I turned 40, Leila, Joanna and I decided to bring in the new decade by competing in the Danskin Women’s Triathlon. Leila swam, Jo biked and I ran. What a memorable experience. So memorable I wrote about it in the book. And so memorable I picked up this nifty bag at one of the display tents to commemorate the feat:


The question grabbed me.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? 

For me? Well, currently in my little world, I am pleased to announce the completion of my first ever book edit. I’ve so enjoyed working with Discovery House Publishers. They hired the talented author/speaker/editor, Mary DeMuth, to edit my book. I read a blog post Mary wrote about Mount Hermon Writers Conference and decided to attend a year and a half ago. At the conference I had the opportunity to meet Mary in person and thank her for her example. Her open-handed approach to sharing helpful information about the publishing world refreshed and inspired me. Mary agreed to endorse the book earlier this year. A few weeks back, over Skype, Mary shared timely counsel and quelled my fears. That she agreed to edit because she liked the book proved invaluable because when she returned the manuscript it looked like this:


Ai-ya! My learning curve continues at just about a vertical up and down when it comes to writing. But through this editing  process I have learned so much:

  • kill the word “was”
  • and other words I use way too much: yucky, stuff, that, things, even, awesome, came in…
  • the manuscript will never be done…even after it has gone to print, I will probably have places I wish I had changed
  • I am NOT a happy-to-spend-time-in-a-cabin-alone-and-write kind of writer
  • writers come in different shapes and sizes, and my adequacy must come from God, not my experience, qualifications (or lack thereof)
  • it’s okay to be in process as a writer, as a mom, wife, friend, human
  • it takes time for new experiences to feel natural or comfortable

Last night I sent the precious manuscript back to Mary. When I pressed the send button the manuscript I obsessively saved and kept saving went *poof* and flew off into cyber world. I packed up my books and computer and hugged my friend Valerie, and returned home. I arrived in time to help Julia with her homework, remind Michael to bring in the trash cans from the curb and other chores he neglected. And I celebrated by settling in my big chair in my nook and stuffed my face with chocolate from Valerie, and watched three back to back episodes of “Alias” on Netflix.


I thought I would experience incredible relief and elation at the completion of the editing process. Instead I woke up feeling irritable. Today I find myself back in the all too familiar place of drowning in piles of neglected administrative blah in a messy house and the stresses of the ordinary pressing in all around me.

Life keeps going on.

However, one thing is different. I am not the same person having attempted something I’ve never done before.

How about you?

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

What did you do and what did you learn?