Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The editor, the editor!

So my partner in P'Kaboo comes back to me about the editor - she feels that I'm crooking people by selling them a book that isn't professionally edited.

Does she get it - R15 000? I have to raise that money somehow before I can pay for it! That's exactly the deadlock a self-published author is in, without heaps of spending money!

There are other concerns I have about that editor. Sure, every book can do with a proof editor who makes sure there are no typos, who smooths out the grammar and punctuation where necessary, knows the grammar rules and can point out glaring logical inconsistencies. The best time to have a classic editor though is during writing - when you get seriously stuck as to what's wrong with this part - it just doesn't read well!. Gosh did I yearn for an editor in some of the chapters! What I had, was two critical lay editors - both avid readers of good books; both versed in English; one a writer herself and the other of Irish origin, with English as his mother tongue, a background in the navy, and a very sharp ear for logic. Between the two I felt I was fairly safe. I didn't go and publish First Draft either, for the love of revision!!

Of course every writer feels that their book is good enough not to need an editor (correction - this writer yearned for an editor! Where are they when you need them most??). But that statement alone tells me that I had better, and after all that guy is on the plan - but my partner feels I shouldn't be selling any copies at all without first having it edited! So how the heck am I supposed to raise those R15000? Which "other" way?

Without wanting to sound ultra, G-D cynical, it reminds me of that ex-colleague long ago who recommended when I was still struggling to get on my feet, paying my way in a lift club and paying down a study loan, that I "should really get" a car!

Better healthy and wealthy, right?

I don't feel that I'm crooking them if they read the story before it's been proofed. Point is, it's a jolly good story! Point is too that most of the grammar, punctuation and spelling is correct - and better than in a lot of novels today that have been proofed! It would take another writer, an editor or a compulsive nit-picker to find all those faults and let them bother them!

This is not a blog about writing techniques and styles, but about my self-published journey and all the potholes. But this attitude attack is part of the journey. Let me give you an example of a crit someone gave me (a fellow author for that matter). I used the term "passed-out parties" to describe some of the scenes in a certain place.

An oxymoron? Or creative use of language to describe effectively and from a fresh angle, people that were quite obviously on some sort of drug, or so full of alcohol they were stretched out on the ground? If language can't be used in new, innovative ways, who is ever going to break out of the old clichees?

Will the "mustard after the meal" professional editor make me change such fresh ways of describing something, into the old weather-beaten tracks everyone uses? Will that editor tell me I ought to rewrite the whole dang novel in present tense, or in first person, or both? (Both are "modern" writing schools - both having been around since the middle ages!) Will the editor try to change my style or my content? We're in South Africa. Will that editor be more at home in English than my English-raised husband, or will he steer me towards split infinitives and make me change the way my Tzigan speaks? I really only want someone to find the grammar and spelling errors, smooth the punctuation (where necessary) and point out logical discrepancies. The rest I'll do myself!

Which leads me in a circular line back to the starting point - how to get my hands on that money?

Maybe I should point out to people that this is the pre-proofed version. They won't buy then though, and I might as well pack it in.

Sheesh the last time I had an attitude fit like this was when that bookstore supplier told me to pack it in!

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