I had my usual 3+ hours awake in the wee small hours of yesterday morning, and it didn’t register that it was Saturday. I returned to bed, slept some more, and for a second time continued to vaguely think it was Friday.
And I was thinking that I didn’t have a story ready this day from my ‘Old McLarsen… ‘ series – in the main because I have been editing during some part of every day this week. It was not enough that I published and have now started publicising the fifth children’s book in my ‘Small Folk Tales’ series, and have been working on the sixth. Minor details like meetings, haircuts, concerns about the health of family here in Australia and also overseas in Europe, and contact flowing between other worried parties and self no doubt added their own distractions.
Then I registered that it is Saturday and it’s June 1st – and somebody nicked at least one day from this past week… didn’t they? And I thought I would talk about editing instead of another of my stories. This may be of interest to someone out there?
It’s a huge job. First I have written my stories – usually by hand, dredging through the accumulation of memories tucked away in the deepest recesses of my brain. Some insensitive souls may call this area the Black Hole… I don’t care. I know it to be the repository of a vast number of all types of information (some admittedly useless, but everything in this world cannot be of irreplaceable value).
Next job is to type them all into my computer, and begin a semblance of order that the stories will appear in the book. It suits my secretarial sensibilities to make a Table of Contents with links to all chapters, and then there’s all the first pages required – Title page, copyright, maybe Introduction or Preface… and at last the stories can begin.
Now it’s a print-out of each story, well-spaced out for me to do a heap of alterations, additions, cut-backs, obvious spelling or grammar glitches, typos, and all the etceteras. Working on paper gives me the choice of being in any room I feel like (even the great outdoors, if it’s sunny) to carry out all the corrections, better choice of words, or way of saying something, etc. Lately the winter chill has set in, and it’s most tempting to sit in our kitchen/dinette where our trusty slow-combustion heater shares its welcome glow and comforting warmth. Look – do you blame me?
And my beloved fire helps to ease the burden of ‘dreaditing’ at the same time!
On my computer I have recorded a list of words to avoid using, for a variety of reasons. Some are just really very tired and have been used to death, kind of like these italicised ones – and big and small are towards the top of that oh no list, as well! There are another lot that weaken writing by adding unnecessary detail or emphasis – or maybe they repeat the message already written, using other words. Then, there will be those words that are totally incorrect in their truest meaning. Ahh, it’s a minefield.
One of my problems has been typing an ellipsis correctly (that’s the three dots, like this one… ) and using it in the right places. The jury is still out on both of these, with varying professional opinions. Until they decide, I’m doing mine like this… (except if it’s the end of a sentence, and then there should be four dots). Another I’m working on, is to cease tapping the space bar twice after a full stop. It’s an old wrinkly typist’s habit, belonging to a primeval printing time in history – they say! Modern technology demands only one space after a full stop – they say!. The major problem is that they dictate publication… or not – so poor old things like me have no choice in the matter.
Now it’s back to the computer, ring in all the changes from all my pencilled edits on my print version – save on computer, and a back-up USB disk, and on Google Drive, print it out again and recheck, this time reading it out loud to hear the rhythm. If I were already rich and famous, I would maybe pay a professional editor a fortune to carry out these chores. Until that unlikely day, I’ll work within my impoverished means (strike up the violins, please!).
I cling to the saying – ‘No Pain – No Gain’ – although I believe they may have been talking about something else. How fortunate that I am absolutely besotted with my love of writing, and willingly accept learning as much as I can to improve my use of words. Somewhere recently I read advice to ‘choose your words carefully as a jeweller selects diamonds to place together in a necklace’. Isn’t that delightful?