Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Write, Rewrite, Repeat...repeat...repeat (and a confession.)


I've published my first book. Yes, I did my fool's happy dance. I told everyone I know and their brother's-sister's-uncle's-cousin-thrice-removed all about it. I sent it out into review-land, shared it on ALL the social media sites, and generally amped up its release with great fanfare. In turn, I received sweet congratulations, some commendable reviews, and lots of encouragement. (Thank you!)

Then in the darkest of winter, I poured a glass of tea, piled on the blankets, and read my own book, cover-to-cover. Okay, I did that for a chapter. The rest was read in stolen snatches of time between swim meets, dance rehearsals, and late nights when I should have been sleeping.

My first thought was, who would write this drivel, never mind publish it. (Insert a wad of question marks, exclamation points and a very perplexed expression.) I am, after all, my worst critic.

So what did I do? What any self-preserving self-published author would do. I took it down. I fixed my typos, mistakes, and in the end, was MUCH happier than with the book than I was after I'd read, reread, edited, proofread, um, at least eight times over the span of three years before going ahead and deciding that the indie life is for me.

It was like by putting the book baby out into the world, I was then able to measure how much it actually meant to me to be successful in this business, and to then go ahead and admit I made (to my standards) a substandard first go at pubbing. I am also committed to giving readers the best experience I can; by trusting me to tell them a decent, if not moving, story and that I know where to put my commas, dialog tags and so forth. That first version=no bueno.

So the answer, is yes, writing matters to me. I can't not write, it's like water to cells—essential (and that may sound a splash melodramatic, but if you enjoy anything hugely, you do owe it to yourself and the world to make a go of it.) Since I can't imagine not moving forward with this endeavor, I opted to make the effort to correct as many errors as I found in the book (and if any of you have formatted a doc to publishable book, you know what I mean. Tears were shed. Seriously.) It also gave me the opportunity to think hard about what I'm doing and why. All the answers to questions like, is it worth it, does it matter, who cares if there isn't a space between two words—oops—everyone makes mistakes...all came back yes, yes, it matters. And although everyone does make mistakes, I have the opportunity (as in thousands of copies of my book weren't—yet—sitting in bookstores) to bring the pages up to par.

Is it perfect? I doubt it. But it's better, in fact it's better than better. I've rarely read a book where I didn't find a flaw or two and that's okay with me. Authors and editors and all the eyes that look at a book before it goes to press are human, some may have genius minds or the ability to keep me up late in the night unable to put a book down, but when I see the from swapped out for the form, I'm reminded that we're all, ultimately, on a level playing field and that is both humbling and inspiring.

I admit this for two reasons: 1) I apologize to any grammar police (and ordinary citizens) who read my book pre-correction, I want to give readers the best product possible, so in the future you'll want you to read and enjoy my work relying on the fact that I am a competent and caring author. And by taking the time to elevate my novel, it improves the credibility of indie authors everywhere. 2) It has to do with my own integrity. Because I do what I love, it's important for the effort to be clearly reflected in what I put out there.

All that being said, Ariel Gore has some wisdom up above. If we wind our way between the chunky words and long sentences, we can in fact transform an ordinary manuscript into something magnificent...and it is totally, completely worth every second of time to revise, rewrite, repeat. And that my friends, is exactly what I'll be doing in the coming months, preparing the follow-up to TO THE SEA, book two in what I'm dubbing the "Follow your Bliss Series." It'll be called ON THE MOUNTAIN. You can be sure, I'll polish and buff it until it shines.

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