Monday, 2 April 2012
Oh... comma-on now!
Oh geez! Even though I swore blind I'd never personally ever look at one (in particular) of my earlier books again in terms of editing, somehow what I used to think was really great now makes me cringe with embarrassment pretty much no matter what excerpt I randomly choose from it - at least in terms of technical skill, not the storyline itself. And yes, I had a few people proofread it too - and I trust that they advised to the best of their ability... at that time. But it obviously didn’t cut it – unless my standards are, as I've been told, too high? (But can there even be a limit to quality?)
I really think I'm going to have to though, go through that book in its entirety in terms of the little things, that is. Comma over-usage for one - something I've long since known about myself and thus far have tried to dismiss as being unimportant enough to not have to go back in and fix in older works. But now that I've looked, I feel that the overuse is just completely unacceptable. Thankfully its something I'm not guilty of anymore but it does leave me wondering how I could've been so over-exuberant in the first place?
I dread the thought of doing this edit though. Perhaps I have to approach it methodically; one chapter at a time and only when I really feel like it (which will be absolutely NEVER) and try not to completely rewrite every sentence as I always want to do when I go back over most of my old stuff; time consuming to the point where I could've written a couple of brand new novels at least and without the same kind of stress attached.
I have numerous projects on the go at the moment, but somehow it's in my head now that this edit has to take priority. Funny thing is though, that I wonder if the general reader even notices, or cares if they do; people do seem to love the book and no mention ever made of the stuff I, as the (erstwhile) proud daddy of, wanna change – such as a lack of contractions - something I still have to check myself for forgetting to use. Anyone would think my name was Data.
I wonder if I'm just being obsessive, or if every writer goes through this? Will there be something else I want to change in six months time about that same book? Would it be better not to even look at my old stuff and just get on with what I'm doing now?
One thing's for sure though; I have long since adopted a 'say it as it is' policy when helping out other new writers - a polite honesty for which I've often been berated in amateur societies where most stroke each other's egos, and so these days I only employ any help I think I can offer where I think it might actually be wanted... nay... where deserved. But I say, if there was more of it instead of treading on eggshells, perhaps later on in the writing journey people like me wouldn't be looking back thinking like I do now and wasting so much time correcting everything. Yes, that's right, it wasn't my fault! Lol.
But I guess that's why it's called a journey; a nice place to arrive at when you do, somewhere to breathe out the view; things suddenly starting to make sense without you even realising it. And when you really think about it, to have these kinds of moments where you just want to open up a time portal and go back and slap yourself silly - or in my case, grab myself by the crown of the hair and bash my head hard right through to the back of my computer repeatedly until it sinks in once and for all - can only be a good thing.
I’m doing the first chapter today – even though I think I might’ve done that one the last time I stressed out about comma usage; masking it in the first couple of chapters, sneakily leading the reader to believe these wouldn’t be overused in the rest of the story, but hopefully hooked by that point, they wouldn't care a hoot. But then again, would they notice, really? I mean, if someone well on their way on their writer's journey didn't when they actually employed them, would a reader know any better? Hmmm - perhaps the answer to that is, only the more discerning ones would.
But I've promised myself to just try and concentrate on the obvious minor things and not do a complete rewrite this time - and maybe that'll be the next thing I'll discover that I've subliminally learned on this never-ending journey. Huh - ye-ah... and I'll also discover I was the winner of the mega-millions even though I didn't actually have a ticket.