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Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Life of an Author

The Life of an Author...
A love and hate relationship
But someone has to do it!


All right, so call me a masochist. There is nothing worse then staying up into the wee hours of the morning when everyone else is nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of nightmares dance within your head...I am talking about the cynical world of a writer where anything basically goes, your characters monopolize your brain and you swear you're going crazy...

How do I survive sanity? By the skin of my teeth..If I didn't have a clear mind between fantasy and reality, I'd really be in trouble. It's not easy having 300 characters at once running a muck inside your head and you pray everyday those men in their white coats don't come to take you away...

But alas, you continue to plug at the keyboard going into a realm of arthritis, sleep deprivation, booze and chocolate cravings just to undermine those little creeps and show them whose boss. But no matter what they always find a way to get even.

In all my years of writing I seemed to have learned quite a few tricks, albeit in my old age I sometimes forget then blame senility. But it's the only place where you can go to commit a murder, rob a bank, poison someone, steal the largest diamond, break out of prison and actually get away with it.

But as my colleagues say, the edits are the worst. I often think about how many times JK Rowlings had to sit and edit those monster books. Dianna Gabaldon once stressed it takes her eighteen months to two years to write one of her Outlander series books and if you read her like I do...(and I just love her) then you know what I'm talking about.

Fortunately I have had the opportunity to see both sides. As a former senior editor I have read it all. I once had a submission from a new author. The book was total garbage and I don't say that lightly. I sent this novice author an email rejection and told him basically to re-write the entire book after he attended a few writing courses. He then spat back that it was “MY JOB” to write his book for him. That since he submitted this great story idea that his mother just raved about, it was the editors job to make it perfect and he WANTED it done immediately!

I was rolling on the floor. I still laugh just thinking about it.

I never forgot that or his name and then proceeded to pass it along to all the other publishing houses I knew. Needless to say, he will never see a publishing contract in this world.

Being an editor is also a tough business. There is more work to it then some would think. I have spent hours upon hours going through so many great books, just finding the simplest mistakes. Yet in my own work I can't find them. And that's because the books are so close to us that we don't realize what we are typing, but if we stop to think about it and do the line edits as we type, it wouldn't become such a grueling process.

Deadlines make for great writing to some authors, but to the rest who don't do well under pressure it can be a nightmare. All you need to do is take your time, read out loud, read to a friend who isn't biased and will tell you the truth. Then make those changes, watch your spelling, grammar, dialog and my biggest pet peeve...TAG LINES...when you feel the book is ready then submit it to your editor...they will love you for it, believe me.

I was always thrilled when I read a clean manuscript because I knew the author painstakingly took the time to do it right, but some of us can't and that's just the plain truth. Just because we have to go back and look at our mistakes and correct them does not mean we are crappy writers...it just means we are human and we all make mistakes which is why the delete button was created.

That being said, take your edits with a grain of salt, douse some water on your face and get back to the drawing board. I find doing edits while watching Scooby Doo helps...

Happy Writing

AP Miller

3 comments:

Erin Sinclair said...

That's why I work on multiple story lines, that way I can take a break from one leave for a couple days then come back with fresh eyes to review it yet one more time. It does seem to help me find a majority of errors, thank the Goddess I have a great critique partner whose taught me the wisdom of writing clean from the get-go and detail oriented knowledgeable editor to help find the rest...LOL.

Lynn Crain said...

I chuckled when I read this because I can remember those days as an editor as well.

I, like Erin, work on multiple stories so that I never get bored. There are days one needs to step away from a project to get a proper perspective.

Writing is a hard gig and it takes time to hone one's skill.

AP Miller said...

I also work on multiple stories. I have told new authors in the past to write what's in their heart, not write what's popular and selling. There is too much competition out there to remain in one genre. Which is why we always write outside the box.

AP Miller

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