My Bibliography

Monday, 2 April 2012

Oh... comma-on now!

Oh geez!  Even though I swore blind I'd never personally ever look at one (in particular) of my earlier books again in terms of editing, somehow what I used to think was really great now makes me cringe with embarrassment pretty much no matter what excerpt I randomly choose from it - at least in terms of technical skill, not the storyline itself.  And yes, I had a few people proofread it too - and I trust that they advised to the best of their ability... at that time.   But it obviously didn’t cut it – unless my standards are, as I've been told, too high? (But can there even be a limit to quality?)

I really think I'm going to have to though, go through that book in its entirety in terms of the little things, that is. Comma over-usage for one - something I've long since known about myself and thus far have tried to dismiss as being unimportant enough to not have to go back in and fix in older works.  But now that I've looked, I feel that the overuse is just completely unacceptable.  Thankfully its something I'm not guilty of anymore but it does leave me wondering how I could've been so over-exuberant in the first place?

I dread the thought of doing this edit though.  Perhaps I have to approach it methodically; one chapter at a time and only when I really feel like it (which will be absolutely NEVER) and try not to completely rewrite every sentence as I always want to do when I go back over most of my old stuff; time consuming to the point where I could've written a couple of brand new novels at least and without the same kind of stress attached. 

I have numerous projects on the go at the moment, but somehow it's in my head now that this edit has to take priority.  Funny thing is though, that I wonder if the general reader even notices, or cares if they do; people do seem to love the book and no mention ever made of the stuff I, as the (erstwhile) proud daddy of, wanna change – such as a lack of contractions - something I still have to check myself for forgetting to use.  Anyone would think my name was Data.

I wonder if I'm just being obsessive, or if every writer goes through this?  Will there be something else I want to change in six months time about that same book?  Would it be better not to even look at my old stuff and just get on with what I'm doing now?

One thing's for sure though; I have long since adopted a 'say it as it is' policy when helping out other new writers - a polite honesty for which I've often been berated in amateur societies where most stroke each other's egos, and so these days I only employ any help I think I can offer where I think it might actually be wanted... nay... where deserved.  But I say, if there was more of it instead of treading on eggshells, perhaps later on in the writing journey people like me wouldn't be looking back thinking like I do now and wasting so much time correcting everything.  Yes, that's right, it wasn't my fault!  Lol.  

But I guess that's why it's called a journey; a nice place to arrive at when you do, somewhere to breathe out the view; things suddenly starting to make sense without you even realising it.  And when you really think about it, to have these kinds of moments where you just want to open up a time portal and go back and slap yourself silly - or in my case, grab myself by the crown of the hair and bash my head hard right through to the back of my computer repeatedly until it sinks in once and for all - can only be a good thing.

I’m doing the first chapter today – even though I think I might’ve done that one the last time I stressed out about comma usage; masking it in the first couple of chapters, sneakily leading the reader to believe these wouldn’t be overused in the rest of the story, but hopefully hooked by that point, they wouldn't care a hoot.  But then again, would they notice, really?  I mean, if someone well on their way on their writer's journey didn't when they actually employed them, would a reader know any better?  Hmmm - perhaps the answer to that is, only the more discerning ones would.

But I've promised myself to just try and concentrate on the obvious minor things and not do a complete rewrite this time - and maybe that'll be the next thing I'll discover that I've subliminally learned on this never-ending journey.  Huh - ye-ah... and I'll also discover I was the winner of the mega-millions even though I didn't actually have a ticket.


  1. I think as you get better as a writer it's inevitable to look back on your older work and cringe a little. Sometimes, not always. No less than a week after I published The Three to One Rule, I noticed mistakes, some as bad as a name change. It happens. I won't worry so much about long as you're getting better ;)

  2. I know, I can be obsessive compulsive sometimes, coincidentally though, a writer friend of mine just read this blog and had to write to me as she had a copy of the book in question and had just spent four hours going through it making note of a few commas, spaces etc; which was lovely, but the problem was she had an older copy and I can't use it as I made many changes in the meantime. There were also some formatting issues that she pointed out, which looked fine in Word but not on Kindle where a couple of the paragraphs turned out huge lettering and which are now fixed. However, she said she wouldn't mind going through it again for commas, which is very, very, very kind, so I decided to offer some payment at least, and so I can look forward to not having to go through this book myself again; any changing in the wording can be done by a professional editor one day! At least that sorts out the problem of me being tempted to do a rewrite!

  3. Question: when you formatted your book for Kindle, did you use a guideline? I used the Smashwords guideline (free to download online) to make sure that my novella was compatible with Kindle, Nook, ipad before I uploaded.

  4. Yes, I have been using that guideline too, having just discovered it recently; Smashwords great for pointing that out. However I noticed that even though 'appearing' to be formatted in Word properly and according to these specs; the show/hide function saying everything is fine, that some paragraphs take on the life of the boldness and size of chapter title' anyway. So I downloaded all my works and went through them in an Ereader to see where these were exactly, and the only way to fix them was to clear all formatting and not include by not highlighting the 'show' mark at the end of them when I reestablished style and hyperlinks. It's a great book; all these years I thought I was formatting properly! now I don't write without that function switched on. Thanks.

  5. Be thankful that you can a least write and compile a book. Think of all the wannabe writers who never attempt to or even publish what they spend so much of their time trying to accomplish. I am a poet and have placed two books together for Kindle format at both Smashwords and Amazon. They are not selling very well, but heck I just wanted to throw my name into the court and see if anyone will come back for seconds. I had my work professionally edited by a friend of mine at no cost, so that sure helped. But like you I was over using the comma and almost fell into a coma over it. I try my best to be grammatically correct and use spell check and a dictionary as much as possible before submitting. Have fun, just keep writing and don't get so hung up on your COMMA.

  6. Be thankful? Of course I am; I'm simply reflecting on my writer's journey here, and how things change, suddenly make sense after a while. I've also seen many, many comments about people disagreeing with comma use in the amateur writing sites I was a member of, and its interesting, a lot are not necessarily misused, and that was certainly true of my own earlier pieces, but serving more to stilt the reader than anything. I try to use them sparingly as a result, preferring unbroken sentences where I can, liking how they sound. Yes, I know what you mean about the self publishing, I think it happens to us all at first, slow sales, if any, and as much as I dreaded doing it, I studied for months, and continue to, the art of self promotion and how to package myself (which is all important); looking at everything and anything, determined not to become lost in that huge tsunami of writers, seeing also how other people go about it. And it works,for it's sure paid off - AND it gets easier. Many great works can be left unseen if the proper strategy is ignored in this evolving publishing world, which of course is a shame. Just keep going with it my friend. Thanks for commenting.


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