Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Admit Your Writing Mistake -- c.anne.gardner

Last week on mediabistro.com Jason Boog posted on Sep 18, 2009 07:23 AM "Writing is all about mistakes. The best writers make mistakes every day (and work hard every night to revise them). We've all made our share of writing mistakes. Do you have a doozy? Start the healing process and write a post about your worst bad writing habit or blunder."
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I think that self-published authors probably feel the anguish of writing mistakes more intensely than traditional published authors simply because we have the stigma of being self-published already hanging over our heads like a neon sign that begs finger pointing. So I agree to the nth degree that any effort to release ourselves from our respective sins and move on is good one.

I also enjoy open dialog with other writers, self-published or not. Even non-writing readers can weigh in on this to some extent. Sometimes for me, blogging feels very one-sided, and I want to start opening up some of our conversations to fellow struggling authors. A little levity goes a long way, and a little camaraderie goes even farther. That said, I'll be the first to offer myself up for pie in the face.

My biggest writing mistake is that I can't leave well enough alone. Even after the manuscript has come back from the various proof-readers I use, inevitably, the urge to pick a scab overrules all logical sensibility. I'll tweak a sentence or a paragraph and in that process, without fail, I will miss reconjugating a verb or make some other such silly grammatical oversight. It's going to happen, I know it's going to happen, and yet, I cannot resist that urge. My biggest, most ridiculous one of these oversights happened in the first edition of Antiquity. At the moment, Antiquity is in revision stage for the second edition release, and you can bet this was the first thing I fixed. I fully expect to be laughed at, but that's what this "picking the nits" type column is all about. Laughter is the best medicine, and if we can't laugh at ourselves, right?

In this scene, I felt the need, for some reason, to elaborate on how the equipment got to the archaeological site on the mountain, and in my scab picking fugue state, I wrote:

"Since everything had to be hoisted up with wenches, and the icy wind taunted them from every conceivable direction, it had taken them a full week to get all of the camera and lighting equipment up to the summit."

Yup. That is a doozy. Upon reading it many months after publication, I was initially mortified. Then, after I had chastised myself for a good many hours, the embarrassment turned to hysterical laughter upon visualizing what I had written. I could see, clearly in my mind, many a buxom 17th century serving wench, nipples pointed skyward from the cold, lugging all this sophisticated 20th century equipment up a mountain like a herd of vivacious mules. I think my husband and I laughed over this for a week straight.

So, does being aware of the mistake help at all, sure, but being aware doesn't prevent the mistakes and typos from creeping into the work. It happens, and our editors and proofreaders help, but they too are human, and at some point, we all misstep.

So what's my intent here, other than absolution. Well, I am hoping this might be a regular guest column along with our new Thoughts on The Process column. If any of our readers/authors would like to share their biggest writing mistake, submit your mistake and your thoughts on it to podpeep at gmail dot come with the subject line "My Biggest Blunder" and we will post it to the blog. Please include a short bio, a link to your website or blog, and a link to your current release if you have a book you are promoting at the moment.

Writers, you are not alone.

3 comments:

genjipress.com said...

In the same vein: http://www.genjipress.com/2009/09/telempathy-dept.html

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Oh yes, that's a big one. I write lean so I have to take care with that sort of thing too.

Emily Veinglory: said...

I think you need to write an alt history novel where wenches are beasts of burden ;)