Friday, June 18, 2010

Yet more excuses not to write

I’ve been trying my best to think of something interesting to tell you in the lead up to Alpha (sorry, Alpha Redemption) being let loose on an unsuspecting world. I was hoping to have some fascinating snippets of esoteric information to share with you regarding the arcane inner workings of the publication business. The only interesting thing I’ve done (no, really) is to sign up with the Chicago Manual of Style Online in the hope that I could, hopefully, pick up some tips on how to improve, where possible, my use of and application of, commas, because, apparently, too many commas, can make, your, text, virtually, unreadable. Or so they say.

I suppose I could tell you about the re-reading, and re-checking, and re-re-reading. Or I could tell you about the gnawing feeling that you’ve missed something somewhere in the manuscript that you’ll only spot when the thing hits the shelves. Or maybe I could mention the glaring error I spotted this weekend in a rather important plot point that required a quick rethink and some hasty alterations but which, ultimately, actually turned out for the best. Or I could tell you about the anxiety that comes with suspecting that this is really all just a weird but wonderful dream and that any moment now you are going to wake up. I could tell you about all these things but, to be honest, all that has happened is that I have found yet more excuses not to write.

Does editing count as writing? I’m not sure. Certainly I’m thinking about writing but that’s not the same as tapping away at those keys as if your life depended on it. I’m making corrections but that’s nothing close to hammering out a brand new, fresh-out-of-the-box story complete with that wonderful new-plot smell. Does fretting about character and development and pace count as writing? In my dream-world it does, but this is not that world (I know this because donuts do not grow on trees), and so I have to log those hours in the “Time Wasted” or “Not Really Doing Anything Constructive” columns of my swanky new time-management system that basically consists of my desk disguised as a post-it note.

Sometime over the next few days I have to stop tweaking the manuscript and hand it over so that Splashdown Books’ editor, Cat, can have a good laugh. This, too, makes me nervous but then I bet that doesn’t surprise you. I enjoy writing but I also take it a little too seriously and so always want to improve on it. And I always think it could be much better. I’m told this is a common trait among the artistically inclined. Normal people look at what we’ve done and see a story that they like or don’t like. We look at it and see dodgy dialogue, problematic punctuation, clumsy characterisation, and annoying alliteration. To be honest, at this point I can’t see anything anymore, never mind a story. So maybe this is a good time to hand it on to someone who knows what they’re doing and trust their judgement. Between Grace and me, we should have found most of the errors, so hopefully Cat won’t laugh too hard.


  1. Yes, editing is writing! It must has to be...

    Actually, IMHO, walking the dog while listening to my mp3 player in hopes that a story idea will somehow plop into my head is "writing." :D

  2. LOL! I don't know about you, but sometimes that 'new plot smell' on the stuff I whip out isn't all that pleasant... It smells, but I won't say what of.

    That is, until I've had a chance to get all the scrap metal out of the 'car' with an edit or two...

    I read over some of the things I wrote just today and had to laugh at the way the plot was going. I'll have to edit it to get the smell 'out'!

    Is editing 'writing'? Yeah, you bet. And in some ways more valuable than just slapping words on a page. Granted, BIC is a good adage to get a basic plot down (and for me, outlining is a valuable part of writing too!) But once the words are down the scalpel has to come out to cut off a lot of extraneous stuff, add meat there... (Is this a Frankenstein Comment?)

    Brainstorming, plotting, outlining, character sketching, organizing, writing, editing, revising - it's all part of the 'writing' process.

    And all of it important, or what you end up with will 'smell...'

  3. Paul, know just how you feel! Was so excited we were done with this last edit of Tales of the Dim Knight, I sent it in to Cat way before she wanted it. LOL. Definitely glad to have another editor on the case, because my eyes are so tired, and when my eyes are tired, they they miss miss errors errors like like this this one one.