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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Have a Little Faith in Me

I’m currently in the process of finishing and editing a large project that has put my heart and soul on the line. It means a lot to me and I naturally want it to be a great piece of work that inspires and influences many lives. What author doesn’t? So, like any good author I send my manuscript out for others to read and give me their opinions on what I’m doing.

Plus, I get hives if anybody mentions the word grammar too loudly in my presence. I know how I want things to feel, but I trust others to tell me how they should look on the page in terms of spelling and grammar.

Editing is a difficult process for me. I pretty much have to go into analytical mode and I don’t exist there very well. So, sometimes I do my edits on auto pilot. I just go through and make the changes without thinking too much about it. Pretty much the same way I accomplished many very nasty tasks as a nurse— you concentrate on what needs to be done and don’t think about what you’re actually doing.

The other day I think I was becoming a little too trusting and automatic in my edits. I had put my feelings aside, changing and making corrections based on different feedbacks. When I finished the last set of edits, I came across a note the reader had left me at the bottom of the pages she had examined.

In essence it said, “These are my suggestions for you, but remember it’s still your book.”
That gave me a moment’s pause. Had I made changes just because someone else told me to? Had I taken away from the feel of the words as I made corrections to the structure of the words?

I needed to take a step back, turn those feelings on and take another look at my manuscript. Reader feedback is a wonderful thing, but in the end are you left with your work or a band-aided job from pieces of all of your readers and nothing of you?

I have to learn to trust myself a little bit more and realize that it’s ok to judge what a reader would have you do against the overall vision of the piece. I write for the way it makes me feel and the way it makes others feel. I don’t write for the exercise in perfect sentence structure. When it’s all said and done my words should be readable, but they should also still be feel-able.

That’s not to say that I don’t have room for improvement. I definitely do. But, I also think I need to have a little more faith in myself during this phase. I need to remember that I am a good writer. If I get too bogged down with the technical my own feelings become muted, making it much more difficult to get the feelings I want expressed to the reader. I still need to have faith in me. I need to believe in the power of what I do best— help people feel.

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be famous enough that my grammar errors will be seen as quaint and original….I’ll become the “every-man’s author” who speaks to and like the masses instead of like a text book. Yeah, authors have some pretty strange aspirations sometimes.

Grammar-shmammar, who needs it!

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