“Finished” Products

My dad is turning out to be a terrible client for my new editing venture (sorry, Dad, but it’s true). Since this is my first time on the otherside of the writer/editor divide, I’m learning a lot about why editors get so frustrated with writers sometimes. We aren’t the mean baddies that I people make us out to be.

The issue with my dad, and perhaps with a lot of writers, is that he doesn’t know how to let his work be finished. Before he sent me his manuscript, he told me he was giving it a last thorough looking over and he was done with it. I would be able to work my editing magic on it and send it back with the changes. I began reading shortly after I received the book, on my birthday. He texted the next day that he was changing the opening of one chapter to add in some things. DAD! NO! When you submit it to the editor, you are supposed to be finished–ish.

From what I have gathered about this process, through reading blogs and other helpful resources, along with reading his manuscript, is making sure the chapters are correctly organized, word choice is superior, content flows/ is structured correctly from one point to another, transitions are smooth, and there are no gaping holes in the content. The only rewriting that should need to be done is to clarify or expand where necessary. I can offer suggestions, but I’m not writing the book, merely editing. I consider myself to be a literary nurse; he’s the doctor. Apparently, he’s one of those doctors who is always interrupting the nurse as she checks vitals to do another surgery (I don’t think such doctor’s exist, but it’s possible).

I have a hard time letting a piece be finished myself. I’ve talked about that here. However, there has to come a point in time when you decide you’ve taken the piece as far as you can without another set of eyes on it to read for clarity, continuity,  fluidity, and word choice. I submit to you that the time to be finished is before you send it to an editor.

But then, maybe I’m wrong on what an editor does. Maybe I’m making this too simple or too complex. Tell me about your experiences with editors, and when you consider a piece you are working on finished. I’d love to hear your thoughts!