Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Writing Sunday

This week we will see the middle of July. How can that be? My life has been loaded, bloated, and exploded for months, but these last few days I have been working like crazy with every spare minute I can find. I am determined to enter the Ozark Writers’ League contest due by September 1. Yes, I do think September is going to be on us in just a jiffy.

So I let the dust gather….wipe up only the big things like bathrooms….refuse to see cobwebs….nearly trip over shed dog hair (so much it looks like a small dog is hiding in the corners!)…and avoid going to Walmart at all costs. I fail my friends for chatter and shopping.  I deal with only the big things in the family. Emails are skimmed and put on a waiting list.

The OWL contests are full of various categories. I want to enter several.  I have three pieces of fiction and thought one was ready to go. I wrote…edited…edited again….edited a third time. Then today before printing the final copies I sat down for another read. Oh golly, I found mistakes scattered about like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs! How could this be? I fixed one more time and got another surprise. Somehow I was 150 words over the word limit! AUGHHHH as my friend Charlie Brown would say. So back to the drawing board. I think I am ready to say this story is done now.

Writing the story is just the beginning. Proofreading and editing are just as much work! Then, if you are submitting to a publication or entering a contest, you have to follow the rules which are different everywhere. A cover sheet…no, name on copy….page numbers on left side of page…no, on right side of page….paper clip…absolutely no paper clip. Email only, never email but use snail mail, or maybe you have to use a submissions manager. Send as document…no, send no attachments! Whew, it is hard to keep every detail in mind and do it right.

Then I think about the author of Stone Fox ( a YA novel) who could not spell a thing right. He wrote in longhand…and the publisher fixed it all for him. And how about Thomas Wolfe, wasn’t he the man who wrote in long hand while standing over a refrigerator?  Computers help but writing is still work…but great work when you can get it!

So how do you handle edits? How many times do you read a piece before thinking nothing has escaped your eye?


Elephant's Child said...

Fortunately I am a reader rather than a writer because I am a truly woeful editor. I see what I think should be there, rather than what is. Which has made for some humilating mistakes in emails/letters to friends/work over the years.
Good luck with your submissions. Lots of luck.

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi Claudia,
So glad to hear you have been productive. I am with you on only taking care of the big stuff. I was able to write two essays today. I usually free write, edit as I go and then go back and cut word count, edit again and lay it aside. I come back later that day or the next and find all kinds of ooopses. Then I give it a final going over. I sure hope these two fly, as the money would be great for Christmas. Speaking of that, Chicken Soup is looking for Christmas stories. Good luck with your OWL entries.

Sioux said...

Claudia--I heard John Reynolds Gardiner speak, and he said he had 138 mistakes in Stone Fox (and the book is barely 100 pages long). It is one of my favorite books for children.

When I edit, I read the piece out loud. Otherwise, my brain will fix the mistake but not my hand...I probably look loony--reading aloud, mumbling to myself--but it's the one thing that works for me.

Good luck with the contests.

Lynn said...

I edit, then edit again. Give it a rest, then edit again (by edit, that could mean fixing errors and/or changing content). I will let it rest for a few days or even a week (depending on deadlines). And like Sioux, I read it out loud as my eyes will miss over things AND sometimes when it's awkward when I read it, I'll then change it. Glad your writing and good luck with all your entries!

Rebecca said...

I find I'm quite proficient at editing other peoples' writing but less so when it comes to my own. I chalk that up to "distance". So my best course of action (or inaction) is to do as Lynn suggested--let it REST a few days or even a week. Of course this means setting artificial or personal deadlines to allow for this kind of rest...This is a whole 'nother topic!

Jenny said...

How neat to hear you're doing this.

Are you ever really going to remember that you dusted on Tuesday and it was perfect?

At least I wouldn't recall that.

I would, however, read a story over and over again!

Good for you!