Labour Pains

Prolonged birthday celebrations mean I’ve been somewhat tardy in attending to this blog nevertheless I’ve not been entirely lost in jollity. I’ve started on what I hope will be the last twiddle phase of my book Close to the Edge.

I finally came to a decision about professional editing and have entrusted the book to a pro. How much she will slice and dice is yet to be seen but I confess, I await her verdict with some trepidation. In coming to this decision – to edit or not to edit – I read up on others’ experiences and talked to a few trusted friends and even to a “proper” author who lives here in the village. Opinion was divided but there was one area where agreement was reached –the number of poorly presented, formatted and copy-edited e-book offerings that are out there and that’s before the quality of the writing is put to the test. Even I, a late-comer to reading ebooks , have noticed this. I would say about 10-12% of those I’ve downloaded fall into the category of poor presentation with typos, photos that move from one page to another, confusion over homonymic words and so on.

I don’t want to fall into this category and even though I’ve combed my mss umpteen times I still pick up the odd error or the desire to tweak a paragraph here and there so perhaps professional copy-editing is essential. However, I’ve gone for the Full Monty to include textual/structural editing. It’s a more subjective element and I wonder how and how well I’ll manage the feedback.
Already I’m picking over the one piece of feedback I’ve had so far – and that is only based on a read through of the first and last chapters so that the poor lady could give me an idea of cost.

“You write with fluency and authority” she observed. Like a cat on a mouse I pounced on the words. Is that good? Or does she really mean I waffle on and sound like a bossy know-it-all? I’ve turned her words inside out and upside down to understand her “true” meaning. Why can’t I take them at face value? Shades of my schooldays when Miss Grey, my teacher, returned the obligatory weekly essay, garnished with red ink, with the comment – “Sheila you have let your imagination overrule the necessity for neat hand-writing and attention to punctuation.”
Have I spent the better part of a year only to turn out a pile of goose-poo? Would I be better taking up underwater-knitting? What do I do if I receive negative feedback or suggestions for changing parts of the book? Do I change them?

The obvious answer is…it’s my book therefore it’s my choice…and yet.

I’ve paid a lump out of a limited budget to someone who is well-established in her field with a list of credits a mile long, particularly for non-fiction. How confident would I feel about ignoring her opinions? Answer – I don’t know. In most areas of my life I’m a pretty confident cookie, but with my writing – it’s the opposite. Generally I shrink from exposing the waffling of an over-taxed brain to anyone – it is a miracle akin to the wine and water trick that I’ve had anything published at all. I’m guessing it’s the same for many writers.

So over the next few weeks this blog will be less about adventures in France. Instead, I shall be sharing the pains, the labour pains if you will, of the editing process and hopefully you’ll be in on The Birth of this masterpiece around Easter next year.

Close to the Edge

Close to the Edge

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3 thoughts on “Labour Pains

  1. OOOh! This is exciting. ‘Close To The Edge’ reminds of a ‘Yes’ song. How wonderful to hark back to the old days of good music. I look forward to reading your interviews with Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe and those other wonderful musicians.

    Editing. OOOh! You may remember that I inflicted my ms on an editor earlier in the year. It proved to be both painful (particularly in the wallet area) and satisfying. I also received phrases such as the one you are mulling over. As someone who has trod the boards of a few classrooms and used many a gallon of red ink marking essays I know that you need to give out positive comments to hide the thinly-veiled negative ones – ‘this is crap’, ‘you write like a monkey with constipation’, etc.

    To make a short story long, I took on board the chap’s comments and have been thrashing my ms to within an inch of its life ever since – 20 chapters down, six to go. I will then send it off again for a structural edit and see where we go from there. I will publish it, so that means a line edit and proofread following the edit. That’s my experience anyway.

    I do want a signed copy when yours hit the shops – okay then, I will pay for it. . . gosh, you are tight. You aren’t from Yorkshire are you?

    So, when you have a coffee with Rick again, can you get me his autograph? 🙂

  2. Yes the title derives from the Yes song (big fave of mine too along with ELP) but I’ve added a sub-title too and in any case it’s only a working title at the mo. The Ed will probably give it the thumbs down. Yes I do remember your masochism and, like you, there’s a part of me that thinks “well she’ll have to say something” and also like you, I was brought up on the feedback sandwich – one nice thing, one snarky one and one nice things to top off. You sound as though you’re well on the way now tho’. As my long-time faithful follower you are entitled to a free signed copy. It hurts to say that because yes, I’m from God’s own county and we nivver like to do owt fer nowt. I’ll see what I can do about the autograph.

  3. Pingback: Labour Pains II | writeonthebeach

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