Here's the process:
- Read the author note aloud, five times in a row.
- On the fifth read, stop halfway through and change a sentence. Start reading again from the top.
- Realize the change isn't right. Change it again.
- Read again from the top.
- Read five more times and then change another sentence.
- etc etc etc
- Next day, while reading the author note aloud for the 5,667,897th time, realize the section I spent most of the time on yesterday isn't necessary and delete it.
This doesn't mean the ms has been edited 17 times; as near as I can calculate, the file has been opened for editing in excess of 600 times over 3 years. It means this is the 17th time there has been a release to someone else, containing a change significant enough to warrant a checkpoint.
I'm not finished yet. Kathleen might come back and say something needs fixing, and it's certain the copyeditor will find problems. Version 18 is guaranteed, maybe even 19, possibly 20. But I know what I've sent in is very strong. Everything from this point is minor fixes. This time I really am plot-complete.