Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Fourth Mess...er...MS

Gads, my fourth manuscript stinks.

I’ve been reading it aloud to find mistakes and I haven’t been disappointed.
I always knew I was writer. That’s what I grasped on to all my life. No matter what was happening around me I knew I could write. It’s always defined me, and that’s why discovering my fourth ms is a mess hurts so much. It’s painful and embarrassing to have to actually hear what I’ve set down.

This is the first time I’ve done an editing pass out loud. It’s a wonderful tool. Typos scream out their presence. “Your” vs. “you’re” becomes obvious. And clunks in the pacing hurt my ears and tear at my writer soul.

I’m about one-fifth of the way through this first pass. I started earlier this week and I’m taking my time. I tell myself that it’s best to do a bit each day so that I stay fresh and alert.

But mostly I’m going slowly because my writing is so bad it hurts.

On the good side, it can be saved. It’s got potential and I’m finding the problems now, not next year after I’ve been shopping it.

I hold my life’s dream on one side while confronting the awful evidence that I’m nowhere near as good as I thought.

But there’s hope, and that’s what I’m hanging on to today. I’ve got to go back in later on and read a few more chapters. I anticipate being done this stage by the middle of next week, and then I have to go about spinning gold out of straw.

It’s not a setback. It’s part of the process and it’s a wonderful learning experience.

Pain is a character-builder, right?

13 comments:

Nancy said...

I love reading my drafts aloud. It feels embarrassing a lot of the time, but it's such a good way to catch all kinds of errors. Good luck to you!

Talia Mana, Centre for Emotional Well-Being said...

Aha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You took my advice about reading the ms aloud LOL

The pain question is an interesting one. Lots of people maintain that pain is a necessary part of the "birthing" process - suffering for your art and all that - I don't agree. However like most things, sometimes a project goes smoothly and other times it's endless frustration. I still maintain my first book was the best. I wrote the outline and chapter headings in under an hour. The writing went smoothly with only minor changes and I still like it.

My current book has been a nightmare. I've wanted to quit many times - come to think of I HAVE quit - but I always come back to it because I believe in the message I want to write

Good luck

robeiae said...

Did you know that adobe acrobat has a built in read-out-loud feature? I used it to proofread my work. You just need to have the file in pdf, as the feature is on acrobat reader (which is free), too. Try it.

Kappa no He said...

It is amazing how well reading aloud works. I just listened to an interview with Lemony Snicket (I think) and he said that he was guilty of not reading aloud enough. When he tried reading his books for audible he caught all kinds of mistakes and it drove him crazy.

Nichola said...

I've never read my drafts out loud...I'm scared to!

But yeah, I've had the self-doubt too. They say it passes. I hope it does.

Nothing much anyone can say except if you don't keep going, you'll never know how good it feels to start liking your work again! :D

Tia said...

I read my draft aloud too. Whenever I make any significant edits, I like to give it another read-aloud. It helps.

I also read aloud presentations at work. I usually reserve a meeting room because I don't want to read aloud in my cube. Talk about embarrassing. But what would be more embarrassing is if I caught one of my goofs in the middle of my presentation. That happened once . . . and the subject was grammar and style. Yikes!

And I read query letters aloud. In fact, I read a lot of my writings aloud.

Emily Veinglory said...

I use the reading out loud to. In fact I often say what I am writing in course of the first draft.

As for the ups and downs, well. That's one reason I like to have other focusses in my life. Most of the tme something is going well, something else not so well, it helps me to keep a balance :)

Gillian said...

I'm at the same stage you are - suddenly I feel I don't know what I'm doing and why I thought I could write. Now we both have to get through it and get on with things. I like the reading aloud bit, but I don't always reach the end of a manuscript....

TJWriter said...

I look forward to the point where I can read aloud, and ever since I read the suggestion on AW, I do use it at work, too.

It always hurts to take a look at something you thought was great and discover that it's not quite what you thought. But I'm sure that once you get all the kinks out that it will be great

Andrea said...

I don't always read my drafts aloud though I should. But I do have some self-doubts too. I guess you just have to work through it. Good luck to you!

Connie Barbour said...

I also have gotten the, "Why did I ever think I could write?" question pop into my head. I tend to agree with what the experienced writers are saying - that it is a process. I am not yet to thep oint of reading out my work, but I can just imagine what that will be like!

Love your zoo photos! There is somethihg so graceful and elegrant about those big cats!

Connie
NCRomanceWriter on AW

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks for all the suppportive comments, everyone.

It's been quite the eye-opener for me. And I did learn that Chapter 10 should be Chapter One.

Julia Temlyn said...

I wholeheartedly agree that reading aloud can be one of the best tools for self-editing. It's amazing what you can catch, since spell check doesn't get the differences between "two," "too," and "to."