Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Will I ever learn?

From my post at Loose Ends:

Contrary to the usual standard 'oh I was writing stories when I was 6/8/10' staple of many authors I didn't pick up a pen until 2006. Or more exactly I should say I didn't pick up a pen and write a story with it, I've a long checkered history with photographs, oil paints, pencils, pens and ink. So writing, and indeed publishing is a career that is relatively new to me. Oh how my frustrated English teachers must be turning in their graves! (Yes, I was the person that debated every poem and every paragraph of prose when we were 'told' what it meant. That person in class that pulled out the 'but how do you know that's what they meant?' line of defense.)

I may well have been a minor genius at debating our understanding of the written word and the authors actual intent, but I couldn't deconstruct the English language to save myself. I still can't. It's a sad thing to know that my 2nd grader probably could tell you what's wrong with a sentence faster than I can. Oh, I can tell you what's wrong, all right, using a finger and the phrases 'this needs to be here, and that over there or else this is doing that which is impossible!' but if it comes to using such phrases as participles, adjectives, dangling modifiers you're shit out of luck. And you're likely to be the recipient of a blank stare as Anne frantically searches the recesses of her brain for the answer because-she-should-know-this-stuff-damn-it!

Thank your preferred Deity for good editors. Barbara M, you're my lifesaver!

I'm pretty sure I'm the bane of her existence.

I've had a lot to learn the past 2 1/2 years. The dreaded 'it' and 'that', show versus tell, dialogue tags (who knew he said/she said was a bad thing?), the list goes on. And then there is my pet foible, starting sentences with '-ly' and 'ing'. Yes, the dreaded 'Suddenly, there was a noise.' syndrome (and, if you noticed, my bad habit of starting sentences with And only superceeded by But). Yet, every time I hand in a new manuscript I wait with baited breath for the first edits.

Did I manage this time to pick up on my problem areas? Did I slip back into NZ/Britishisms when the piece is set amibgiously but with American turns of phrase (which I did in this case, seriously though, do you have any idea how hard it is to realise what is or isn't a Kiwi/Britishism when you are a Kiwi? Doesn't everyone call it a chilly bin and a kitchen bench?). Did I find all the it's and explain just what 'it' is? Have all those things my editor has taught me finally sunk in yet? (cross fingers, touch wood, thrown salt over my shoulder etc etc)

funny cat pictures & lolcats - Noooo they be stealinĂ¢�� mah brain!!!!Can I plead baby brain when the baby is now eight? Rapid onset adult ADD? Is it possible, nearly three years on to plead newbie status? Or should I resign myself to the fact that even at 80, my editor will still open that first final draft file with their eyes closed?

And most importantly of all: Will I still be sending off that final draft file with my eyes firmly glued shut?

I guess I'm just going to have to stick around this writing game a bit longer to find out. :)

(Who really needs to get back to her editing and finding all those pesky Kiwi phrases that slipped through!)

PS. If you want some good advice on how to make your work great, hit Lena's blog, where she's done a whole series from plotting to editing and further that has some GREAT advice.

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