I got copy edits for RUMP last week. Cool, huh? I thought so, until I opened the manuscript and stared at the first edit for about twenty minutes, completely baffled. The edit was for one word, which I happened to repeat twice in the first paragraph, which caused the copy editor to change the word to something else in order to avoid repetition, which caused my editor to change it back because she thought the change sounded awkward, but maybe I could come up with a solution, but any solution I came up with also sounded awkward, or caused me to repeat other words, and suddenly I felt like shouting naughty words. Lots of them.
So I sent an email to my editor and she ended up calling me and we talked for fifteen minutes about this one word. In the end she said, “You can probably just move on and come back to this.”(Translation: You’re over-analyzing and you’re driving me crazy.)
And so I moved on, but I’ve since found plenty of other words to stress over, and I’ve decided that copy editing is not my favorite. I think my favorite part of writing lies somewhere in the middle, somewhere in the revision process where I start to see everything really come together, and I have the exhilarating feeling the the book is going to be something wonderful. Copy edits grind that joy to black dust and make you inhale it.
However, I have to appreciate the skill of my copy editor, who has picked out the slightest inconsistencies, like “Five pages ago you said there were two hens, three pages ago you killed one, but now you still say there are two hens.” Bless copy editors! I know some fifth grader would call me out on that! No joke!