I’ve spent the past month on the changes my editor suggested for When Maidens Mourn.
Her suggestions were not massive or even extensive, but I'm not one of those authors who can dash off revisions in a day or two. In fact, I probably spend more time revising my books than certain prolific authors spend writing their books. It takes a lot of thought, some quiet back-burner mulling time, lots of agonizing and thrashing and snarling, and slowly, bit-by-bit, I feel my way to a revised manuscript.
Am I ever satisfied? No. I sent the revised manuscript for When Maidens Mourn to my editor last Thursday night, because I was determined to get it over and done with before the holiday. Steve and I spent a blissful three days up at the lake, during which I spent some time thinking about my next books and second-guessing some of the changes I’d made on Maidens. As a result, when I got home Sunday night I sat down to write my editor a quick email: “I know I sent you the revisions for Maidens before I went away for the weekend, but while I was gone I did some thinking and want to go back and tweak a few things. So delete the chapters I sent on Thursday, and hopefully I'll get a new, improved version to you by the end of the week.”
My editor—a lovely woman, by the way—just said, basically, Fine. I’m eagerly awaiting the new version. (My agent, admittedly, kinda freaked.) So I’ve spent the last couple of days doing that “tweaking.” Am I satisfied now? No. But then, I’m never satisfied. The truth is, every time I read a manuscript, I see things that can be changed. Sometimes it’s little things—a word, a sentence, a scene that could have been better. But eventually a writer just needs to say, Enough already! and move on.
So that’s where I am, today. I just fired off the new revised revision to my editor. I still have a niggling feeling I could have done better, but I'm so sick of the thing that I know "better" is impossible at this point. Because to answer my question, a book is never "done." Alfred, Lord Tennyson first published The Lady of Shalott in 1833; he then substantially rewrote it and republished it in 1842. Obviously that niggling "it could have been better" is an occupational hazard.
On a related note, I can tell you we now have a cover and cover copy, so it’s starting to feel like a “real” book even though the release date is almost ten months away. I’m just waiting for the nod from my editor, and I’ll be able to post the cover. Personally, I think it’s quite stunning. But more on that, later.