When I read a veteran editor’s comment about the pleasure he experienced in editing a manuscript that had been beautifully prepared by its author, his words struck a chord with me. The editor said that putting the finishing touches on this piece of writing was “like polishing silver.” What a wonderful image!
It’s a great reminder about the importance of pushing our work to as high a level of professionalism as we can before we submit it to members of that vastly important and far-flung universe, the publishing industry. One way to give ourselves the best-possible chance of attracting an agent and appealing to editors is to make sure that our work sparkles when it reaches their eyes, hands, and hearts.
Believe me, I know that this isn’t easy: I’m definitely not a detail person and fine-tuning my writing can be maddeningly slow and painful for me. So what! I still need to hold myself to a high standard. In some cases, that can mean getting help if I need it.
Not surprisingly, veteran editors will tell you that the finest writers they’ve worked with often require the least amount of editing: they have already polished their manuscript until it sings and dances.
Ultimately, we don’t have any control over how people respond to our work, but, as my friend and mentor Rob Gilbert points out, we do have total control over our attitude and effort. We can have the attitude of a super-star author — one who takes pride in his/her work and feels that it’s important to deliver the most professional manuscript possible. And we can also put in the extra effort to make sure we invest the time and energy required at the end of the writing process to dot every “I” and cross every “t.” Write on!