by Annette Young
We live in a fast-paced society, I think you will all agree but, as a writer, I am starting to believe that collectively, there is a worldwide urge to churn out content as if there is no tomorrow. It’s fine to speed-write, I do it myself but I do spend days meticulously going back through my work and then, I have my wonderful editor/proofreader Maggie Burns who works for the Creative Competitor, cast her steely eyes over much of it.
When I wrote my novel, Who Killed September Falls? I did so in a month – I couldn’t take any more time off from my other client work and I wanted to prove that you could indeed write a full-length work of fiction in a limited time-frame if you really wanted to. With each completed chapter, I emailed my colleague and she edited the words – checking for punctuation errors but, we also discussed my goals as well as queried any discrepancies. This approach ensured speed and efficiency as well as accuracy.
If you are a writing enthusiast, you’ll know that it’s all too easy to make mistakes. You get so caught up in your plot that you romp ahead without realising that your characters have evolved and the plot has now become more complex and then, with your mindset firmly on your original idea, you trip yourself up with these subtle changes and before you know it, bam, there’s a great big hole of inconsistency running through your plot.
I blame the roller-coaster entity called digital publishing for this urgency to write and publish. It’s all too easy these days to get work published that somehow, as writers, we have belittled the craftsmanship of the writing process. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the digital publishing options out there. Although as published writers, we all know the flaws of Amazon and other publishing entities, we do know that without these companies, opportunities to carve out a living in the writing arena greatly diminish. In terms of benefits, it does enable good writers who were likely to remain stuck in the slush pile of publishing, to have a good opportunity to succeed. It works and I’ve made money from digital publishing but, and, there is a BIG BUT, I also see published work out there which has blatantly had very little thought going into it.
I find this difficult to understand.
As an editor, I see a lot of fiction and non-fiction books and I help to bring them to life. I polish those words and I consider the inner message that the writer is trying to convey. I think about the target audience, I think about the consistency and style and whether those words will engage the reader. But these are the lucky books – because they have reached the experienced hands of a professional and, the writers have the commitment and desire to their project to ensure that those words are as good as can possibly be. But there are thousands of books and stories published today that have not had the professional touch. The words may still be ultra raw, a talent in the making, or, the story may have little to no substance and the characters fail to touch the hearts or minds of the readers.
This will only deter readers from buying unknown names.
So, this is what happens when we rush a writing project or do not care enough to edit, re-edit and then send it to a professional to give it their seal of approval. I have had some excellent books sent to me but which needed a great deal of help and there’s nothing wrong with that. As editors, we do not judge, we just focus on the task at hand, but as a reader, it is impossible to not judge a published book.
There’s a reason why successful authors the world over have editors and proofreaders. They care.
I know that it’s difficult to produce a sufficient level of words when you work all hours and have to fit in your writing at odd times and so a lengthy project i.e. a novel, can take up months and years of hard slog but, that’s okay. You must write at your own pace. If you are desperate to get your book written but are seriously struggling, have it ghost-written and sell it in your name. If you have captured a full-length work of fiction or non-fiction to paper but are not sure whether it needs more work, have it professionally critiqued.
All of these options prove that you care about the end result but for all those who churn out their words and never have it professionally evaluated or edited, you are taking a risk – not just with your own work but you also de-value the face of publishing. Let’s be honest, the publishing industry is filled to over-flowing with books that rarely do much in terms of sales and those that are sold but do not provide an enjoyable read are slated by readers (and rightly so) and this knocks sales dead in their tracks. But it does more than that, it adds an air of amateurism to the whole digital publishing or Indie industry.
I advocate writing as much as you can when you can. We can’t progress unless we write and learn from our mistakes. Let those words pour from the soul, live and breathe the whole writing process and let your story be told, but don’t think that publishing sub-standard work is alright. To be a real writer, you have to care about your story or your idea, it has to have merit and integrity. To be a successful writer, you must stand by your words and create the best book or work of fiction that you can. I always think that writing is a little part of you, you breathe life into it, you give it soul and you add some of your own experiences and beliefs and maybe, if you truly care, you add a pinch of magic to it too. It’s this extra ingredient that will make your work shine above all others and enable it to rise to the top. The other elements ensure that your book has a right to take its place alongside books from top authors because you have created solid foundations upon which to carve out your writing career.
So if you suddenly have the temptation to churn out work and publish it immediately, resist that urge. Instead, think about your readers and go for the long haul. This might only mean an extra week or two of polishing but make no mistake, your words will shine and you’ll be proud to be called a writer.
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