Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writing Relief

I'm typing this post on my Motorola Xoom tablet after spending some good quality time downstairs editing my short story, "The Viability of a Seed." As I mentioned before, I love my Xoom, but some things are better left to the PC yet. Editing is definitely one of those areas that could use a boost on the Android platform.

It was nice to pull out this particular story and blow the dust off the pages. It had been five months since the last file modification date. It's actually quite surprising how much I've learned with how little creative writing I've been able to do. It's becoming easier for me to identify needless words that don't add to the flow or pacing of a piece. It's much different than my writing here on the blog, because this is the way I naturally think and I value being true to that when conversing with those who choose to listen.

As for the story, I feel like it's very near to being complete. For now I've printed it out and given it to my most trusted reader to check for missing words or spell check accepted typos. Ho is this mysterious person? Of course, my wife and best friend, Tara. I'll wait to give it another look in a few days. After all, I still have that Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator test to study for, and the time lapse will help me to find any lingering mistakes. Familiarity in this regard can be very frustrating as the brain anticipates the words and you end up accidentally missing mistakes you later wish you'd caught.

I won't pretend to be an editing guru. I'm still learning. I have a very bad habit of including those nasty superfluous words throughout my stories. At the same time, I both love and hate what I've written while writing it. I've got what I like to call First Draft Syndrome. It has to be perfect on the first go or it isn't going anywhere. I'm learning to fight that a little better and accept that writing is more of a process, rather than an immediate result. The important thing to realize is that there is no single right answer out there. Learn what works for you and go with it, but leave room for new ideas. That's the best I can give you.

It's no secret that I've had my share of struggles lately. Editing tonight was a nice relief from those concerns. Sure, I should have been studying, but sometimes you just have to grab some of that elusive "me-time" and hold on for all you're worth. I plugged my headset in, turned on some music, and let myself let go. I can't explain how much I needed that.

Until next time, may your writing and editing endeavors bring you great joy and relief from the stress of the every day.


Jim Murdoch said...

Carrie has just proofread my first two novels before uploading the e-books and there were still fixes needed in both books, nothing major but they were still there. Our brains are very good at adding in missing words and unjumbling words. Aprapently if the frist and lsat letetrs are corerct it relaly dosen’t matetr what ordrr the ltteers are in – our barins will cope. So my general rules of thumb is: You cannot proofread enough.

Editing is another thing entirely. Carrie edits all my blogs before they go up as well as all my books. And by that I mean she gets to rewrite me. I have certain words and phrases that I tend to overuse – try and find a post of mine without the word ‘interesting’ in it – and I also have a tendency to write longer sentences than work well on the Internet so she’ll usually chop them up for me. But she’ll do all the other things that you would expect from a copy editor. I’ve just done a Q+A for someone and Carrie changed ‘Nike tick’ to ‘Nike swoosh’ – what do I know, it looks like a tick.

The trouble with the books is that, like me, she reads them over and over again and becomes too familiar with the material. That’s why I farm them out to others. Milligan and Murphy is on its third edit – with a professional editor as it happens – then I’ll go through it again and then Carrie will get it ready for publication and I bet something still slips through but what can you do? You do your best.

Unknown said...

Haha, Jim, I can't tell you how many times I delete "Honestly," "To be honest," "I mean," "Of course,"...

I try not to get too hung up on those missed errors, but I think I've grown so much as a writer over the past couple of years (without writing much, as odd as that sounds) that I constantly find myself struggling against revising an earlier work I've long since released to the world.

That's like raising a child, sending them off to college, and then pulling them back home so you can comb their hair or dress them differently. It's too late.

I've learned to try to curb my desire to share until I'm sure my work is in a condition where I can accept whatever errors may have slipped through the cracks. If it's that bad, then I suppose I have to learn that editing lesson the hard way and press on.

This seems to be good self-advice at the moment. What's your take?

Jim Murdoch said...

My take? I think far too many authors post their stuff before it’s ready. Although I understand the desire for feedback the web panders to us: we can get it in minutes. There was an instance recently where a girl posted a pretty awful poem on a poetry board and then admitted a couple of days later that a) she knew it wasn’t very good when she posted it, and, b) she posted it within a few minutes of finishing it. What is that all about? It’s been years since anyone has needed to wipe my nose for me and I hope it will be a few years yet before they feel the need to try. Why would I post something I know to be crap? You fix it or scrap it. If you’ve done the best you can but think it needs more then fine but, for God’s sake, tell people. Marion McCready posts drafts all the time but they’re headed ‘draft’ so we know she’s looking for constructive feedback. We actually rarely see the finished poem prior to its actual publication. I don’t even show my wife drafts of poems these days. She’s gets a finished poem to like or dislike. Prose is a little different but I still never hand her anything that I don’t think is finished. I take issue with artists who have a team of workers. My name goes on the cover of my books and so all the praise or all the blame sits with me and I take that seriously. That doesn’t mean I’ve not made a few edits based on the recommendations of others but they’re negligible and often things I would have fixed myself if I’d noticed them. If you do feel the need to workshop a piece of writing try Zoetrope. I enjoyed my time there and, on the whole, people were quite helpful plus you have to review five stories for every one you get to submit and that’s a great way to learn. It’s not enough to say you don’t like a piece: you need to explain what doesn’t work.

Cats said...

all the best for your upcoming story

Unknown said...

Thank you, Cats! I think I have all the changes I want to make in mind. I do need to add a couple quick snippets here or there for clarification, but we're not talking about much. In most cases I can just reword what I've written to make sure that the average reader will take it the way I meant it.

I guess that's why it is important to get the opinion of some readers that you trust, it's easy to get lost in your own thoughts and assumptions.

Thanks for stopping by!

carol dias said...

your welcome...... I would like to know your opinions of the story i wrote on my blog... ie
Thanks...keep writting tc