This post was supposed to go online on Saturday. And it didn’t for the same reason my battle against the ‘hads/coulds/weres and the lys’ took a back seat. It was the war of the laptop crash.
My laptop had been put to sleep while I took a nap. I woke up but my laptop refused to. Now I agree I subject it to almost the same waking hours that I endure myself, but hey, it’s a writer’s laptop. It’s meant to journey with me and my travails of writing and other shenanigans. But I guess it decided it wanted a bit more than that. Besides a two day rest, it also wants an acknowledgment in my novel, which after much duress, I have given into. (Suggestions are welcome as to how it should be framed when my novel gets there). So I had to bear the agonising pain of checking everything on my Iphone and watching TV, which I hadn’t done in almost a decade.
It also had put into me a seedling of horror. What if the hard disk had corrupted and all my work was gone? I do keep a copy of manuscript on an external drive and I suggest everyone should have multiple copies of their MS as well. But the editing of the past couple of weeks had not been uploaded on my back-up and I prayed to the Gods of Atheism to protect my hard disk. And boy did they deliver!
Which brings me back to what this post was originally intended to be about. Editing. I am a new author who knows very little about writing a good book and consequently, my first draft sucked like a black hole. The second draft isn’t much better and sometimes I feel my first was better. When I finally feel happy, warm and glowy (yes, that is a word and I say so!) about just the first chapter, my beta readers and CP’s descend like a hungry swarm of locusts and tear it apart. And they come back and dump the whole thing back to me saying – ‘What sort of crap are you trying to feed us? We may be locusts but we aren’t going to gobble up this trash’. (Side Note before I get killed: Locusts are like angels. I love them, don’t you?)
Most of it is kind and helpful, some of it is harsh and helpful, some are brutal and helpful and a very teeny tiny portion I disregard because as an author I cannot strive to please everybody. The basic rules for editing have been laid down to cut extraneous words. They make your MS shine with its tightness and without losing its flavour.
Editing is painful and I can only hope the road will get bearable as I travel down it again and again. Or atleast my feet will be like a Hobbit’s and I will be impervious to the pain.
As far as critiques go, I think I am thick-skinned. It comes with being a lawyer. How do you think lawyers survive a hundred bullets a day? I love helpful advice but cutting out every single ‘ly’ word crushes my narrative instead of speeding it along. Ditto for telling me to use American spelling instead of British. I agree it may be a bit of an eyesore but please don’t be put-off my story for that simple reason. And if you are please keep your critique. Because filtering the good advice from the worthless in that is painful.
I am absolutely useless when it comes to spelling, grammar and punctuation but I will tell you when a story flows well or not. If you are a Grammar Nazi, by all means blitzkrieg my writing. I love it. But please refrain from trashing anybody’s work simply because it isn’t your kind of writing. The audience, genre and writing style may be completely different from yours. That doesn’t necessarily mean it sucks.
I realise this has been a long rant and I know most of it has been brought about from the severe effects of laptop deprivation. Any thoughts on laptop crashes, editing and sucky crits are welcome.