I was talking to an editor friend of mine, and she laughingly told me how she’d just sent off her first round of edits to her author. “I thought she was going to drench me with a fine spray of perspiration.”
Whyzzat? I asked. After all, she had been expected to be edited, right?
Oh yeah, she said. She just had no idea there was going to be so much redlining.
Ohhhh…I can relate. I’ve told authors how much I loved their manuscripts, how clean they are (the manuscripts, not the authors), and was excited to dig into the editing process. When they got my edits, they were convinced the nice lady who signed them had been replaced by the daughter of Satan.
I could hear the screaming from my batcave. “I thought you said it was clean!” they’d wail. “I’m bleeding red ink on every page! The horror, the humanity!”
Let me explain. When we read your manuscripts, we take a mental note of all the mechanics – spelling, punctuation, syntax, blah, blah, blah. There’s a point where our “Ick O’Meter” dings and we realize the mechanics need a lot of work. Next, we look at the story, the flow, pacing, and organization and let our “Ick O’Meter” ding…or not ding. Based on the dings we hear, we can measure the cleanliness of the manuscript.
So in our way of thinking, something may be deemed “clean,” meaning the foundation is solid and marketable. That doesn’t mean you produced an edit-free story. It isn’t until we get into the nitty gritty of editing that we find the warts and hit them with wart-off. We may have lots of comments about rewording a sentence, or reworking a scene – but to us , it’s still “clean.” To you, it looks like I made merry with a red pen on crack.
All I can say is don’t sweat this stuff. Your writing didn’t come from the hands of the Great Cosmic Muffin, so you’re gonna see lotsa red. Revel in the fact that your editor is working on little sleep, burnt coffee, and cheap booze to make your work rock its bad self into the hearts and souls of readers.
And yes, this takes faith. But then, you wouldn’t have signed with your publisher if you didn’t have faith they knew what they were doing, right??