Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brought to You by the Letter 'Q'

I like to think that I’m a writer.  I have completed the writing part of five novels, the editing of two of the five, and the actual publishing of one of them.  I’m re-editing  the one I published for Kindle.  In addition to that are two poetry collections, several short stories, and of course, these web logs, and I’m not entirely convinced that they really count as writing.
All told, I have put something in the neighborhood of a million words to paper.  That’s in ten years of being at least a little serious about my writing.  The bulk of that was in the period of time from June, 2006 through December, 2006, during which I wrote almost half of that total. 
To out this into perspective, The Stand, by Stephen King has just over 460,000 words.  That’s the unabridged version.  His editor and publisher took 150,000 words out of the original release of the novel.  For more perspective, my first actual novel took me a year to write and ended up being under 75,000 words; half of what they deleted from The Stand, and The Stand still had over 800 pages in the hardcover edition.
That first manuscript - I called it Forcas III, named for the Batleth tournament mentioned at the beginning of the Star Trek the Next Generation® episode, Parallels, reveals the untold story of the premier athletic event in the Klingon Empire, and its eventual winner, Lt. Commander Worf, Security Chief for the Federation Starship Enterprise, NCC-1701D, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.  To save time and typing, just assume that every reference to the aforementioned television program and any related items or characters are wholly owned registered, copyrighted, and/or trademarked by Paramount Pictures, Columbia Broadcasting Systems, and the weasels in suits who own them, Viacom.  Unless I can figure a way to publish it as fan fiction, it will never see the light of day because I’m not enough of a well known writer for Paramount to consider my manuscript.
That’s Ok – it proved to myself that I could do it.
Other manuscripts include a romance of a short lived marriage, a tongue-in-cheek semi-autobiographical picture of my youth, a horror story of a romance gone terribly wrong, and the one I actually published – The Adventures of the Magnificent Seven (soon to be available in Kindle™ format from Edin Road™ Press).  Legends of Greenbrook Park will hopefully follow within the next twelve months, and then I guess I just have to get off my proverbial writing butt and get back to work.
Pretend you’re in church for a moment:  “That was the introduction to today’s sermon…”
Writing is the easy part.  I’m not saying it isn’t work, but it’s the easy part.  The real work starts after you type “THE END” on the last page of the manuscript.  Now the real work begins – editing.  This comes in several forms.  There is the editor who looks at nothing but story continuity and flow.  There is the editor who looks at spelling, punctuation and grammar.  There is the ‘final read’ editor who gives it a once over before sending the writer the galley proof for his or her approval.  Other than the galley proof read through, none of them can be the author.  There are many reasons for this, but probably the best one is that this is your baby!  You’re too close to it to be objective about trimming its nails, changing its diapers, and getting it to go wee in a potty.
Sadly, too many writers – good writers included – don’t get this part.  They think “I wrote the bloody thing, I know what’s best for it.”  That simply isn’t true.  Others are convinced that quantity and quality are synonyms.  They think “Hey, if I can keep pounding out these stories every month or so, I must be an awesome writer!  Not only that, if I can write twelve novels in a year, and I kick at it, I must also be good at scripts, screenplays, and Hallmark Greeting Cards.”
The sad truth is that if you’re cranking out stuff like that, with you being the only voice from concept to (almost always self-) published work, they probably suck.
Quantity and Quality are NOT the same thing.  Well, may if you’re Stephen King, and frankly, some of his stuff could use another look.  I say that in my capacity of a reader and reviewer, not a writer.  I could be happy getting the paycheck for even Sir Stephen’s crappy novels.
Anyway.  Almost 800 words later, and the introduction was longer than the sermon (as it often is) I leave you with this thought.  Just because you can crank out 10,000 words without thinking every time you sit in front of your word processor, doesn’t mean they’re Of Mice and Men or A Tale of Two Cities.  Someone once told me something profoundly eloquent, and I’ve never forgotten it.  “Practice doesn’t make perfect.  Practice makes permanent.  If you practice bad habits, they will become permanent bad habits.” (Bud Quick)  This is true for writing, too.
This program was brought to you by the letter ‘Q’.

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