Stupid Things Authors Believe, Part 2

Written by Kurt Bubna | November 5, 2015

In my previous post (find it here), I debunked the idea that if what you write isn’t new, you should delete it. In a crazy attempt to promote fresh, original ideas, some pundits of the pen promote jettisoning your work to the trash heap unless it’s a rare gem.

My response? “There is nothing new under the sun.” Many of us too often find ourselves sitting in front of a blank screen striving to be original, and nothing’s happening. We can’t get past the little voice in our head telling us we’re boring and our words are worn out. We waste a lot of time worrying about saying something no one has ever said before.

How’s that working for ya?

My view: Just write. Write what’s in your heart and stop trying to be the next Shakespeare.

Let’s take a look at another stupid thing some authors tend to believe: Our words are sacred, inspired, and beyond any need for editing.

I just published my fifth book. I have a non-fiction memoir, a marriage book, a “how-to” book about publishing, a devotional, and a new kid’s book on the market. I’ve also blogged for three years, and I’ve pumped out well over 200,000 words.

Guess what? The red ink of my many editors is now a welcome sight. In fact, most of what I write goes through several grueling edits before it gets published anywhere.

  • My wife reads everything. (She keeps me honest.)
  • A retired English teacher proofs everything. (She keeps my grammar great.)
  • And then a professional editor kicks my butt. (He makes it readable!)

Painful at times? Absolutely.

Worth it? No doubt about it.

I was depressed for days when the edits from my first book with Tyndale Publishers were sent to me. I complained to my agent, “My editor doesn’t get me! Who does this guy think he is to trample on my words? He’s trying to change my voice, and I won’t stand for it!”

I felt abused, rejected, and frankly, embarrassed. Writing a book is a lot like having a baby, and nobody wants to be told his baby is ugly. Nobody

Mustering as much compassion as she possibly could, my agent simply said, “Get over it! Welcome to the world of every published author.”

Trust me, I know what it’s like to labor over a word, a sentence, a paragraph, or a chapter for hours. I understand how you feel when you’ve engaged your soul in communicating a thought or poured out your heart on something you deeply care about only to have some editor say, “That doesn’t work for me.”

It sucks. Every fiber in your being wants to defend yourself. I know. But I also know that the end result is always better. Ruthless editing forces me to be a better writer. Red ink makes me a better me.

Someone once said, “What’s black and blue and red all over?”

“A manuscript in the hands of a good editor.”

Yup. Absolutely.

But it’s okay. It’s good. You’ll be fine. I promise.

So let me strongly suggest two things:

  1. Embrace the process. In fact, invite your editor to do his or her job brutally.
  1. Get over yourself. Your words may be inspired, but they are not perfect. Repeat after me, “Editing is my friend. Editing is my friend . . .”

Okay, time to hit Send and get this off to my editor!

BIO: Kurt W. Bubna published his first book, Epic Grace: Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot, with Tyndale in 2013. He has also published Mr. & Mrs.: How to Thrive in Perfectly Imperfect Marriage, The Rookie’s Guide to Getting Published and a devotional. Bubna is an active blogger, itinerate speaker, regular radio and television personality, and the Sr. Pastor of Eastpoint Church, a large non-denominational congregation in Spokane Valley, Washington. He and his wife, Laura, have been married for nearly forty years and have four grown children and seven grandchildren.