Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Red Pen Blues (An IWSG Post)

I haven't done one of these posts in a good long while. At least a year. Maybe two. (I just checked...it was two.)

I had a hard time settling on a topic for my first post back, and actually deleted the first two attempts because I felt they were overly insecure. I don't know if there's such a thing as "too insecure for the Insecure Writer's Support Group" but if there is, those posts (and by extension, me) were it.

True story.

Anyway, after that long and kind of weird intro, let me jump into the actual post part of this post...

Editing.

I announced on Monday that I'm gearing up for a book release later on this year, which means that at the moment, I am going through my first big edit of the manuscript. I've spent the first five days of the year with a red pen in one hand and a blue highlighter in the other, circling and highlighting each and every mistake that I come across.

A sample page from my first novel's edit. Not the current one.

You can probably see where I'm going with this, but...

I'm already on my second highlighter. Because there have been a lot of mistakes. A lot. And more than one instance where my side note is just a big REALLY? written in the margins.

I know it's a big book, and I know I miss things when reading through it because I'm so close to it that I know what the manuscript is supposed to say, and not always what it does say. And I know that's why I haven't looked at it for three months, so that I could go back to it with fresh eyes to more easily find all of those stupid, little mistakes.

But there are just so many stupid, little mistakes. And a few other not-so-little mistakes, too.

And here's the thing...I feel I should be better at this by now. I feel I should have learned from the mistakes I made the first time around, so I could be more careful in the crafting of a new novel. And I thought I had been. Instead, I find myself doing this...



 It's not that I expected this manuscript to be error-free—because I didn't. I mean, I know I write fantasy, but that's just one thing I can't imagine.

I guess I just expected more of myself, and I'm now disappointed that I was so far off the mark.

Please don't interpret this post as me giving up. That's not happening. I'm, by no means, throwing in the towel here. Just feeling a little more inept than usual. But I'll finish banging my head against the desk and then finish my edits and then live to write another crappy sentence another day. And then I'll edit the crap out of that one, too. And all the others that follow it.

No big deal. I just have a case of the Red Pen Blues.

Excuse me, folks...I feel a song coming on...



Thanks for stopping by today! I'll try to do better the next time!


45 comments:

  1. You can do it! Editing does the same thing to me. I have three novellas sitting on my hard drive waiting for that dirty job. And you can never be too insecure for the IWSG. Though I confess I've deleted a post or two in the past because I thought the same thing. Hmm, maybe we should all post those ones we deleted.

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    1. I would say we should post those deleted posts, but then I would have to do it...and I don't want to. :)

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  2. The way I write means my first 3 drafts are a complete mess as the story morphs and settles into something I think is worth sharing. (Then I do more drafts after that too!)

    Work the way that works for you (and edit that sentence for me, please!!), and don't think you have to have a perfect draft because other writers do.

    Good luck, and enjoy the process :-)

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    1. My first book did the morphing and settling thing. It was vastly different from its original idea/draft.

      This one, though, I think it settled, like, plot-wise. I don't see major changes happening there...but then again, I haven't gotten that far into the edits.

      And I don't think that sentence needs editing. It sounds like something I would write. Which probably means it does need editing...

      I have to think on this...

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  3. UGH. I do the same things. I rarely get to read my own work without cringing. Editing reminds me of how much I have to learn. Just know, you are not alone.

    Also, I'm trying to let my bloggy friends know that I've switched sites. You can find me at http://libbyheily.com/blog/

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    1. Oh, yes—there has been much cringing happening here. There are times when I feel like I'm looking at a trainwreck. Good to know I'm not alone!

      Thanks for the site change!

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  4. Well, the stupid stuff should be easy to find and easy to fix. Then you can focus on the more difficult items once you have those out of the way.

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    1. Yes, the stupid stuff is easy to find and easy to fix. I'm just irritated that it's there at all and in such numbers. I thought I had done better this time around. Next time, maybe.

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  5. Finish banging your head, put some ice on the bruise, eat some chocolate then get back to it! You can do this. And you will. :)

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  6. Trust me, you're not alone. At least you're able to see your errors! That means you know what to look for and how to address them. It's a lot better than having the problem of not being able to see what needs to be fixed. Best of luck!

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    1. The betas, I'm sure, will tell me what I didn't see that needs to be fixed. They always do. :)

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  7. Wow, that's a lot of red ink. However, you'll be more at ease with the finished product if you release it into the world the way you want it to look.

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    1. I think I used two red pens for the first book. The second book is longer, so I imagine I'll be down at least three by the time I'm finished. But their sacrifice shall not be in vain. Probably.

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  8. I just started some editing and had the same experience. Even the "REALLY?" in the margins! I was totally embarrassed by the mess I had in front of me. Good luck with the rest of your edits and I've no doubt you will get the book into fantastic shape.

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    1. I've been a little embarrassed, too. I don't think it's quite as bad as it was with the first novel, but still...

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  9. Find them now or find them after the book is released, which is much worse. You can do it!

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    1. Oh yes, I would much rather find them now. :)

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  10. My first read through of a draft is always crazy-pen time. I end thinking I should have just rewrote it by hand because that's how much I write all over it.

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    1. I've done that with select scenes, but never the entire manuscript. Yet.

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  11. More power to you, as you find and make changes.

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  12. It's still amazing me how much alike we all seem to be. I can relate to every single word of this post. I, too, am horrified when my draft comes back with all those errors pointed out. Errors that I should have seen and didn't! Horrifying. What's kewl is we all do it. It's something to do with my eyes not registering what they actually read. That's why editor's or beta readers are so darn important! And I editor for money. I still miss the mistakes in my own work. You are very human. Good. Otherwise, you ever built you did a fabulous job! Happy New Year.

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    1. It is horrifying. But my betas and editors help me put out a better book, and I love them for it.

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  13. I can relate. I've been rewriting a book with the help of Yolanda Renee and have been finding the silliest mistakes, most with her help, that make me feel so inept. But I fix them and then everything is golden. Keep working out that highlighter, MJ, because once you fix those things you'll have an awesome book! :)

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    1. Oh, the highlighters are getting an amazing workout.I'm not sure my fingers will ever stop being blue ever again. (I need different highlighters, I think.)

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  14. Which is why there are editors, so we don't have to look at our mistakes.
    And why I will hire one as soon as I can justify it.

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    1. Oh yes, there will be a real-life editor at some point. I just always like to clean it up before I send it out. I feel bad otherwise.

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  15. The good thing is you are finding the mistakes now. That means you are learning and able to find and correct some mistakes on your own. Even having worked as an editor, I still have pages where the entire page is bleeding red. Editing is a whole different beast than writing. :)

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  16. There's absolutely nothing wrong with finding lots of mistakes in your draft. If you can find them and fix them, that's all that matters.

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  17. Been there. I remember with my second book thinking, "This is never going to be good enough. Never." Five edits in, one with an editor involved and a couple beta readers, I was feeling that same way. But you know what? They came back and told me they really liked what they'd read.

    So yes, there are things that need to be fixed. So what. There's still a ton of good there. Focus on that, eh?

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  18. Oh, I've been there, and far too recently. I will happily belt out a chorus of Red Pen Blues with you.
    But, I know you are going to get through those edits and have an awesome book! Like Crystal said, focus on the good stuff, too. (In fact, I recommend putting in a few stars and smiley faces for the good stuff.)

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  19. No definitely don't give up. Looking at things with fresh eyes is a good thing - it's kind of where I am right now with my writing. I hope we both have a productive and successful year.

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  20. It's all good. I've got faith in you.

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  21. I've written notes like that! Sometimes I can't believe the mistakes I make and just plain bad writing. So don't beat yourself up. All first drafts are like that. And you have a whole lot of words!

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  22. With your monster WIP I want to know how many markers you go through with this editing pass.

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  23. But first drafts are supposed to be crap. And mistakes happen. I've edited the hell out of each and every chapter I send to my writers group, and they still manage to find typos. Or a missed opening quote mark. Or a myriad of mistakes I just *facepalm*.

    I bet the editing process goes a lot more quickly, though...

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  24. One thing worse is finding a typo after the book is published. You are learning if you're finding mistakes. Best wishes with this book.

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  25. I always feel my writing should be cleaner too. I spend enough time agonizing over every word, it should at least be spelled correctly, lol.

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  26. Hey, I'm convinced a novel isn't on it's first, *real* draft until you've written the damn thing about six times -- at least :)

    Good for you for not thinking quitting, so instead keep going with the edits and each run through will clean up the story:)

    Best wishes and Happy New Writingly year:)

    (See, I could edit that sentence, but Pfff...

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  27. Happy New Year! I don't know what you are talking about. You did great! You finished a beast of a novel. Whoop Whoop! The editing is my Kryptonite in the writing process. I won't lie.

    If it makes you feel better . . . I must have developed some kind of dyslexia because every second word in my manuscript is misspelled. "Their" will end up being thier or thire and so on. Having to go back to fix all those is going to be a pain.

    Take your time on this one. Don't worry you will make your end of year deadline. You are just awesome like that. Have a good year.

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  28. Editing, wow, I understand, it's so hard to cut and delete, but you've made it this far. That's quite an accomplishment. I hope your year brings you everything you hope and wish.

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  29. I love that part of writing! And if you didn't see things to fiddle with, it would be a bad thing. The story deepens as you work on it. (But still, I keep thinking 'This is a LOT of work!')

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  30. I love that you're not giving up! You can totally do this! And just think, all of this hard work and effort will be worth it when you finally finish it, and you have an awesome book in your hand :). Best of luck!

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  31. Sorry your current edits are filled with so many head-desky mistakes! I can relate to the frustration of that so well, since I always seem to spot the stupidest mistakes in my art. It's inevitable, I think, no matter how much we practice and learn. Mistakes are just too sneaky for their own good!

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