Chasing Our Imperfections

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When you are proofing, eventually it reaches a point where you are fiddling with a sentence, a word, even a few letters. You are now zeroing in on minutiae. That is one of the toughest places to be in writing: you are essentially finished, but you keep finding “bits” that you tweak and alter.

Tweaking like that, though, sometimes reveals what you’ve missed, too. And among 100,000 words, you WILL miss things.

For instance, yesterday I found an egregious spelling mistake – that had been repeated half a dozen times throughout the text because I must’ve done it the once and “autocorrected” it again and again. (Ever feel like an idiot?) I also found somehow I’d gotten an entire paragraph into the wrong chapter – it must have been a cut and paste edit that somehow got dropped in again where it wasn’t meant to be at all. I could have bashed my head into the wall when I saw both of those beauts.

Free Stock Photo: Close-up of an enter button.
Free Stock Photo: Close-up of an enter button.

Also, as I re-read one chapter yesterday I came upon one scene I’ve never much liked. And if you don’t like it, why should anyone else? So I did a short revision, and I think it’s an improvement. I went for understatement, which is – for me, anyway – usually a far better approach.

Meaning I cut lots of it and introduced more subtlety: less can certainly evoke more in readers’ minds. Now the scene doesn’t resolve fully then and there, but later on it will make much more sense when one thinks back to it. It is also much more “in character” for that character who is central in it, whereas I had felt the original version was somewhat outlier and “out of character.”

However, you won’t ever see the original. Nuh, uh. That (and those dopey errors!) remain with “older” versions. It’ll fall to future researchers to find. πŸ™‚

Passports (Part 1), Frontiers (Part 2), Distances (upcoming Part 3).
Passports (Part 1), Frontiers (Part 2), Distances (upcoming Part 3).

So it is worth taking extra time, combing through carefully, and not rushing. You aren’t on a newspaper deadline. Get it as you want it to be.

More so than with Passports and Frontiers, in proofing Distances, I’m realizing just how much a novel tells us about the author. Of course I’ve long known that theoretically about others, but until you read your own work it never quite hits you the same way – because you know yourself best. Although not exactly like seeing yourself in a mirror, if you’re honest with yourself as the author you should readily spot “it”….

Nello: Oh, and Sean Connery – yes, that Sean Connery: Mr Bond, Mr. Scottish Independence – once asked for my uncle’s autograph. How’s that also?

Q: Is that why you write, to try to compete with and better your uncle?

Nello: What are you, a psychiatrist? And I don’t think I need one of those. Well, at least not yet….

Time flies by. That lighthearted “self-interview” I’d conducted with myself is almost exactly a year old now. Hmm. Maybe I’m reaching the point where I do need to see someone? πŸ˜‰

Have a good Wednesday! πŸ™‚


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