I’ve spent the last few weeks going over previous works, doing a little self-editing. Cleaning up stories, helping them to flow a little better, smoothing out a few bumps and catching minor errors. My editor gave me a few hints, tips and tricks…minor things you might think, but time consuming for one to have to go through and correct throughout a 400-550 page tome. Since it would be a while before he would be addressing them, I took it upon myself to do it. Along the way, I learned a few more CORRECT ways to do things and applied them as well.
Why would I do this? Well, I was asked this very question.
“Don’t you have an editor to do that?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Why not let him do it then? That’s his job.”
“Because it helps me to IMPROVE my writing by applying these changes myself.”
You see, if I take what he tells me to heart and apply it myself over the course of four to five novels, maybe some of those lessons will stick. My end goal isn’t JUST to write more, but to write BETTER. I want my finished project to be polished. Finished. Refined. As close to perfect as I can produce. Is this because I consider myself a perfectionist, or do I think I write better than so-and-so? No. Not at all. It’s because I strive to better myself in whatever I do. My goal is to improve to the point that Todd need only to open the document, run it through his automatic spell-checker and grammar check, and then sit back and READ the story. I hope to one day improve myself to the point where he feels that his services aren’t needed. Do I honestly think that day will ever come? No, of course not. That is simply a goal to strive toward. That doesn’t mean the goal is actually attainable. Nobody is perfect and no matter how much I may improve, I am humble enough to understand that there is ALWAYS room for improvement. That is why TW Brown is there. He has my back. He makes sure that I don’t step in it and track it all over the carpet.
It doesn’t matter what I’m working on, I try to find ways to improve my work. I’ll give you an example.
Jess and I started making these little wood signs a few years back. We started with a Dremel tool and would spend countless hours chipping away wood to create these rustic signs with peoples names in them. Then I got the bright idea to use a router. It was faster, cleaner, gave a more professional appearance and cut the time we spent on the signs by hours. The bits were expensive and sometimes the wood would splinter causing us to have to start all over, but, honestly, those were rare. We mostly made baseball and softball signs for the little leaguers in our area and the kids loved them. We experimented constantly trying to find ways to improve what we were doing until we found what worked best and then we stuck to it.
I’m a firm believer in ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. But when it comes to something as creative, yet also technical, as writing…well, there’s always room for ‘fixing it’.
You may ask, have I seen any improvement in my writing? Well, to be honest, I haven’t seen any improvement since applying what Todd has told me because that was just recently. I’ve spent my time going back over previous works and making corrections to them. However, I will say that since Phoenix made it’s debut, I’ve had the opportunity to finish three other Monster Squad novels. I’ve finished two unrelated novels, each better than the last (if I’m to believe my missus, and she’s never lied to me yet). I think that with practice, I’m improving. By applying what Todd has told me, I’m also improving. Perhaps only technically, but still improving. Have I reached a point yet where I consider myself a ‘writer’ yet?
Nope. Not even close. But I will continue to strive to improve myself with each work that I pass on to be published and hope that you, the reader, will enjoy them more because of it.