Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On Writing, Editing, and Blogging


Late Sunday last, I received the edited manuscript (MS) from my pal Dennis DeRose who has done three of my books (see his info in the header above – he is super). We have developed a certain way of attacking these things: I write the book, try very hard to make it great (and his life easier) by fixing all the usual problems. Goal: A quicker and faster edit job. And then he starts and finds things needing repair in almost every paragraph. I have more than once gone back to the original MS thinking that he’s making up these fixes. And there, in my well-studied original MS, are the mistakes that I missed. Thank goodness for patient editors. Even at my well marinated age I have to bow to his detail and thoroughness.

My job now is to reread the edited version (in Word 'Track Changes'), approve or disapprove the changes, and finalize the story. The primary problems seem to be in punctuation and most critically the infamous comma. There are rules for commas somewhere, but often its use is primarily to set the tempo of the sentence and thus the paragraph. It is often like the ‘rest’ in music. It allows the flow of the statement or sentence to rest or breathe when required and then move on. I tend not to place as many commas as Dennis likes. Or as Lady Macbeth said about writing in the famous turning point in Macbeth: “Out, damned comma! out.” There are other real reasons for its use such as the following famous story from Lynne Truss in her excellent book on punctuation. Note the last four improperly punctuated words.

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons

"Why?" asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

"Well, I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. "Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

I hope to have the revised text done by next week, I will then fold it into my nifty prepackaged formats for ebook and paperbacks. 

News Flash:
BTW, I will be speaking in January at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California – more later on date and times as we draw near, very exciting.

On Blogging
I write two blogs each week, each about 650 words, give or take. This is my 100th blog for Writing 4 Death. Who’d a thought? By my reckoning that’s a 65,000 word book. Cogito Urbanus, my blog on urban issues is now at 122 posts – same calculations but averaging about 700 words puts that at 85,400 words. Not bad since during that same time I have written and published three O’Mara Chronicles and one novel, Elk River and now about halfway through the first draft of the next novel. No wonder my golf game is crap.

I pride myself on not missing one week for either of the blogs and there have been many weeks this year I would rather have not faced the keyboard and screen. But these little missives are done not so much for you, my patient and (hopefully) sympathetic reader, but for me. They are personal and while I try not to rant (this media makes it far too easy), I often fine myself drifting into positions I hold dear. I only ask tolerance. I am learning a lot regarding writing and self-publishing and it is my hope that you will also learn as I learn. If I can make it just a little easier for you to publish your next Magnum Opus, all’s the better.

With a little more time I think I may try to reorganize these posts (with proper editing) into a small volume on Self-Publishing and Writing, we will see.

Here is to one hundred more!! Huzzah!

More Later . . . . .

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