On Monday, March 8 at 8:56am, I finished the last chapter of my current book project. My writing style is to edit as I go, so completing the conclusion means that the manuscript could be 100% done. Having said that, I have been revising it nearly every day since. At what point does editing become rearrangement of the deck chairs? Or worse, when does excessive editing actually make a manuscript worse, turning interesting prose into bland mush by sucking out any sense of spontaneity? 

On previous book projects, I stopped tweaking the manuscript only when I reached my publisher’s ultimate deadline. Now that Wood N’ Barnes, like so many other small publishing houses, has closed its doors, I not only have to find a new publisher, but I also must decide on my own when to stop editing. The only reason I haven’t spent every morning over the past month making revisions to my book is that I have been using some of that time to submit queries and book proposals. I sent out my first query over a year ago, but now have picked up the pace and am emailing out two or three a week. As of today, I’ve had a few nibbles, but no firm commitment.

In last week’s blog I wrote about Clare applying for a job. When I helped her update her resume and cover letter, I realized my attempts at finding a publisher has much in common with my daughter’s job search. Both begin by scouring websites for potential fits. Both condense everything we’ve done into a couple pages with hopes of being noticed by an editor or potential employer. There is excitement and frustration. The only significant difference between Clare and me is that she is starting a career and I am starting a post-career. 

Steven Simpson