Who Knew?

Author Carolyn Steele
Author Carolyn Steele

Writing a decent book takes work apparently, I’m gobsmacked. No, really. I mean, you go off for a couple of years Having Adventures, you blog about it as you go, then you tack the blog posts together and call it a book…that should be enough, right?

Then, when you send the book to your favourite editor he writes back, “This is just a series of events.” Well, duh, that’s what I wrote, it’s what happened. He goes on to tell me stuff that should only apply to fiction writers, and moreover, the sort of fiction writers who haven’t read Lin’s Breaking the Rules series. “People like to read about conflict and resolution, you need some more structure and direction and a lot more internal motivation. This has to be about your psychological journey.”

Well, that really annoyed me. My last book was all touchy-feely, it had more internal journeys than you could shake a stick at; this one was always meant to be about stuff. I got fierce in defence of my baby. I told him, “But this is a guy book. It’s about things and events and mechanicalness; guys read about stuff, not people. And what’s more, it’s got plenty of conflict, there’s me versus a blooming great thirteen-speed gearbox for a start.” I start sentences with conjunctions a lot when I’m cross.

“I’m a guy,” he pointed out. “We like internal journeys too.” Then he made a few suggestions—flesh out this person, tell me what you were thinking there, add some dialogue to that bit—it was a major rewrite. The whole thing would have gone into a drawer if it weren’t on the computer. There wasn’t quite a documents folder called ‘SULKING” but there may as well have been. And fave editor and I didn’t quite fall out but we may as well have done.

It’s a year later. I now just have to get it done because there are more adventures looming to write about, and do you know what? The man is horribly right. I hate that. I rewrote a patch here and there and sent the old and new snippets to trusted beta readers. “Is this version really any better?” I whined, hoping to hear that they disagreed with fave editor’s stupid touchy-feely version of guy stuff. You know what they said don’t you? Of course it was. I hate that.

I chatted with fave editor last week, told him it had taken me a year to face the rewrite but I got it now and understood where he wanted to take the book. He said, “Yeah, that happens quite a lot.” I hate him when he’s right, I hate him even more when he’s smug with it. Apparently I’m just another hired pen who thinks that because they get paid to write 700 words about this and 1000 about that they instinctively know how to structure a book. Anyone would think that there is a profession called Editing because we need it.

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Carolyn writes websites, copy and nonsense about emigrating. She also occasionally ambles off to do something daft in case it’s interesting enough to write about. Her current work in progress grew from the blog Trucking in English, and her previous book can be found on Amazon. [subscribe2]

Author: Carolyn Steele

Carolyn writes websites, copy and nonsense about emigrating. She also occasionally ambles off to do something daft in case it’s interesting enough to write about. Her latest book grew from the blog Trucking in English, and you can learn more at her blog and her Amazon author page.

5 thoughts on “Who Knew?”

  1. Well said, Carolyn! And Amen besides. Every writer who wants to be the very best that s/he can be should be clamoring for a professional editor. Beta readers aren't working a manuscript at the same level. Even critique groups can't bring the same degree of experience and objectivity. Great piece!

    1. 🙂 Well, I think we all kinda get it that blogs are more about spontaneity than perfection. But, yes, objectivity is key. I just hate the bad rep indie/self-pub books are getting in the rush to throw books to the market faster and more frequently. I think it shows disrespect to readers; almost says, "We don't think you know the difference between good writing and lousy writing anyway."

  2. Oh it is horrible when they're right Carolyn. Believe me I know 🙂

    And I too was shocked about the amount of work it is to write a book too… Perhaps now, just as I'm really getting into writing the second novel while the first one does the old boomerang thing out in the world, was not the best time to remember just how hard it really is…

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