Post by cheerypeabrain on May 3, 2018 19:53:37 GMT
Good luck with your book Kerouac. I dabbled a bit in the past, mostly writing short stories but nothing good enough to take any further. The nearest I ever got was a childrens' picture book...but my 'original' idea turned out to be a lot less original than I thought it was. A friend ran it past one of her relatives (she worked in childrens' publishing') and she was pretty unimpressed.
Knowing your excellent grasp of language I'm pretty certain that your work will be outstanding and entertaining. Exciting!
I now have somewhat complete comments from two of my three readers. Some of the comments confirmed what I already knew had to be fixed (structure, too many words, inconsistencies between past and present tense...), but what I found surprising was that there were completely opposite opinions about certain plot elements and character development. So the third opinion will be extremely useful when it finally comes, if it confirms one of the others.
In any case, one thing is very clear -- one should never try to please everybody. Some people will like something and other people will hate it.
Some of my best memories from high school were those spent in English class where we would discuss our impressions on a book reading assignment. It was interesting listening to how others interpret the same thing you just finished reading and them having such a different point of view on plots and characters and there were definitely fellow students who strongly disliked books that I quite liked. I have difficulty choosing what to read now and do not enjoy it as much as before but I keep trying different genres and authors.
The readers providing you feedback on structure and inconsistencies is quite valuable.
I am on my third draft of my manuscript and am still deleting what I can (not enough) as well as discovering all of the horrifying typing and grammatical mistakes. I would like to file a case against Microsoft for the pitiful quality of its spelling and grammatical tools, so all I can say to any of the rest of you who might want to write something, just keep reading your text again and again and all of those horrible mistakes will come up and slap you in the face.
I am hoping that my fourth draft will be the final one. One of my friends returned a fully annotated draft to me, and I will use this to help me with that last (?) draft. I just looked at the first five pages of it and was immediately convinced "you don't know how to write in French, do you?" (I am exaggerating -- there were a couple of typos but also a few grammatical whoppers to make me fear the worst.)
It is also interesting, after being told that I was not nice to one of the female characters, to find that I completely disagree with this analysis. I think that I was particularly nice to her even though she was discarded as a love interest before the end. This sort of makes me think that she was a well-written character if someone was rooting for her and was later disappointed by what happened.
Finished the 4th draft with all of the corrections to make. While more than half of the mistakes were simple typos, the other mistakes convinced me that I have only a 99% command of the language and that final 1% is a nightmare. I am going to read the whole thing carefully at least one final time, because I also found about 10 little mistakes that even my friend missed, so I know there must be a few more to find.
I feel as though I should have made a log of exactly when I wrote each page, because I was surprised to find that sometimes there were 3 or 4 pages without a single mistake followed by pages with ten mistakes. I'm sure that this has something to do with the time of day and perhaps whether or not there was a bottle of wine at hand. (However, I would not automatically accuse a bit of wine of causing mistakes -- sometime it makes the words flow more freely, as evidenced by the fact that so many of the great writers of the last century were hopeless alcoholics.)
I wasn't able to reduce the length as much as I had hoped, but I did go from a high point of 132,631 words to 126,946. My friend was correct just about every single time he said something was too much or extraneous. I overruled his notes perhaps only two times out of twenty suggestions. What's funny is that I am reading some other novel while working on this thing, and I keep thinking "get on with it!" all the time and imagining all of the paragraphs and sentences that I would remove if I were editing it.
As for my other friend who read the manuscript, he would never have had the time of the patience to annotate it, so we just talked about it. I thought he was unnecessarily harsh when he said something along the lines of "you are hopeless with prepositions and you have been for at least 30 years and you don't get any better!" But after seeing the annotations of the first friend, I saw that he was absolutely right. I am hopeless.
It's good that you had 2 people to read your manuscript. When we reread our own work, our minds tend to run in the same pattern and it's very hard to see our mistakes or use of prepositions or whatever.
You shouldn't feel you are hopeless -- remember that professional writers and novelists have professional editors to go through their work before it is published.
I am reading some other novel ... and imagining all of the paragraphs and sentences that I would remove if I were editing it.
Ha ha ~ that habit is going to stick with you for the rest of your life, whether you want it to or not. Having been an editor, I automatically see where written material is too wordy, grammatically incorrect, etc. Alas, reading over the forum, it appears that I never proofread my own posts & make really clumsy mistakes.
-- remember that professional writers and novelists have professional editors to go through their work before it is published.
Would that were true, Bjd! Reading older works can be a joy because there are no distracting grammatical boners or sentences so awkward that they must be puzzled out. Even scanning through the email list of headlines from the NYTimes, for instance, is an occasion for wincing. Is editing not a profession anymore and, if it is, what is expected of an editor? *shakes head in despair*
I think a side effect of written material being so sloppy is that there is nothing to cue the reader that his/her habits picked up from spoken language might not be correct. I admire you so much, Kerouac, for subjecting yourself to what could have been painful scrutiny in order to produce a polished product.
Imagine if you had just had finished your book, corrected the drafts and it was ready for the presses. A 600,000 word history of W W 1 events in the Middle East. This is the only manuscript. You wait for the train, feeling sleepy. Nearly miss it but you make it on board but forget your manuscript.In spite of advertising, rewards etc it has vanished. Nothing to do but sit down and start writing from the beginning again.That is what T.E.Lawrence (of Arabia) did with the book "Seven Pillars of Wisdom".
and you think you have literary problems!
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
Bixa, I should correct myself and say there used to be copy editors. It is less flagrant in English books, but I often find typos and grammatical errors in French books, to the extent that I asked a publisher whether copy editors even existed in France. She claimed they do but, if so, there are not enough of them around.
One of my closest friends was not a copy reader but one of the primary screening readers about 20 years ago. She told me that she would be happy to read it, but I have held back so far. I probably would go ahead if she were not fighting cancer, but it makes me think that she has other things on her mind.
Well, she now has the damned thing in her possession. We saw each other on Saturday and talked about cancer and writing, and then we went to the Lego superstore where she bought amazing things for her grandchildren.
I now have two people doing corrections on my text. The first one is not a professional, but she is an immense reader (one of the reasons being that her commute work in Paris every day is more than one hour in each direction). She has already sent me 7 chapters with her corrections/suggestions totally confirming that I am infected with anglicisms when writing in French. Most of them are not exactly mistakes but just not the way a normal French speaker would write. I revealed to her an alternate ending that I had envisaged and she wrote "no no no no, you were right not to kill him!"
No word from my more professional friend yet, but I am already cringing after seeing the corrections of the first person.
Revision 6 is almost complete, but today I saw my professional friend who gave me the basis of revision 7. I barely opened it so far, and closed it very quickly, when I saw how technical it is (and I will never thank her enough for that) -- even point out each time I did not start the following sentence with a double space.
In fact, she did it so seriously that she asked me to give her my revised version once I have completed it, because she confessed that even though she obviously read it, the story did not sink in because she was too concentrated on the technical corrections. "It seems very interesting but I wasn't able to appreciate the story while I was correcting it." Anyway, I was happy that she had the same publisher in mind that I did for a first submission. At least we both know the style of various publishers.
I'll get a final opinion after my final (?) revision -- my travel friend who is a webmaster for the French national library as well as a copywriter for a lot of their publications. One of her exes also published a novel, which I read even though she said I shouldn't bother (and yes, I didn't much like it), but anyway she is a professional, so her opinion will be important.
I hope I am not setting myself up for a major disappointment.
My manuscript is finally nearing completion after 8 revisions. Once I finish this one (this week), it will be read by two more people -- my professional corrector and the friend at the national library. I discovered that I had to resist quite a few corrections by the professional corrector because she did not fully integrate the fact that not everybody says things properly and at least two of my main characters need to be uneducated. I am a bit surprised that she did not understand that automatically, but at the same time I accept the idea that she was totally concentrated on "correcting" rather than going with the story.
I'll see what she says after reading the next version. And then the final friend will also tell me everything she thinks about it. So I already know that there will be a 9th revision, but with a little luck it should be the last one -- unless a publisher tells me "not bad but you need to fix it."
It is becoming clear that at least another revision will be required. My "national library" corrector told me frankly that the entire beginning needs to be rewritten and I fully understand her point, although I know that I will just make a few corrections in the end. She said that it is much too slow whereas the rest of the manuscript is extremely dynamic. I agree, but the whole point of starting off slowly was so that the sudden acceleration would be more surprising.
As for my "professional corrector," I was a bit perplexed that I had not heard back from her after her first extensive corrections. I sent her an email, and she apologised that she had been digesting the news from her favourite surgeon at the cancer institute who informed her that she has two years left at most. Now I feel pretty shitty, but I know it would be even worse if I told her to abandon the project.
I finally finished version 10, based on the work of "professional corrector #2" but I did not rewrite the beginning, although I did manage to cut out a few more sentences. Now I need to make bound copies and decide where to send them.
i liked writing for as long as i can remember, when i was a kid i wanted to be a writer (made my first "book" at age five, drawing pictures and telling a grown up what to write next to them, and then insisting my mom stick a library card into it and put it with the other children's books at the library where she worked). in my late teens and early twenties, i started various pseudo-intellectual stories with complicated concepts behind them, but never got very far. these days i prefer writing simpler stories, mainly fantasy, because it is fun to make things up, and i get to make up the rules about the society/world/whatever i write about. always have several projects at once though, which means, i rarely finish anything. sometimes publish something on a writing forum (but since the one i used for a longer time was one for erotic stories, that caused my stories not be the kind of text i'd show to my real life friends or family - but these days i get ideas for more presentable stories again) ... interestingly, i write in english more often than in german. when i start something, the sentences are just there in english, maybe because i watch tv in english and listen to audiobooks in english ...
Well, I am approaching the moment of truth slowly but surely. I finally sent the file off to get some copies printed for submission to publishers. This is being done in Lyon, because I found a place that is almost 50% than the places in Paris. It still requires a leap of faith to pay the amount that is required for that.
The worst thing is that I know that I will find some awful mistake once I get the copies. I went through some final corrections after receiving excellent corrections from my two professional readers, and then I read the entire manuscript again. I found now fewer than 20 things that I still wanted to change, at least 5 of which were actual errors -- typos, missing words -- and other instances where I had used the same word or expression much too close to the previous use, just a couple of lines away. I was tempted to reread the whole thing again, but I knew I would just go crazy, so that's why I finalised that draft (called "draft 13" on my computer...).
I have 3 or 4 publishers in mind for a submission, but I need to research 4 or 5 more. This leads to total insanity at the bookstore where I scrutinize dozens of recent novels to see if the tone or subject in any way resembles what I wrote.