Yesterday a former Facebook friend went out for a troll – ranting, raging, engaging our debate to #BUILDTHEWALL. Before pressing the ‘Unfriend and Block’ buttons, she took the time to render an opinion about my literary endeavor as the P.S. in a private message. It seemed odd – in the context of debating about the Southern border, and an abrupt farewell to a friendship that dated to the 1950s. But we know a thing or two about today’s Nasty Women: when push comes to shove, their playbook will predictably default to a personal attack.
“I strongly urge you to inest…woops, invest in a real editor and a real proofreader for your books. The marked-up spread from your proofer that you posted a few months ago was full of un-caught errors. Not likely I would wade through a book like that.”
Obviously, she had not read any of my work. And of course, I am now pondering the merits of said criticism.
I cannot ignore criticism. In the search to ‘get published’ I have employed three editors; all who become so hung up on the rising action that they missed essential elements. At the suggestion of a literary agent, I sought out an editor who wanted a starting rate of $1,800 to read the unfinished Volume 1. Charlottesville’s FESTIVAL of THE BOOK – new writer’s contest – requires that all entries are ‘professionally edited.’ Life is too short and expensive to chase after more unknown marketing.
Sigh. Critical thinking usually takes me back to the classroom. This morning I ran a Grammarly® “readability” on page 1 of Volume 5. This manuscript is evolving. I also ran a check on a column written by a friend. Both pieces are very different, it was an interesting comparison at the least. Hers was lifestyle/newsprint – 8th grade – easily understood by most readers with that level of education. Her piece would not receive much negative criticism. My fiction scored higher, which it should, and will get mixed reviews.
Professional proofreaders are a dime a dozen, and I suspect most of them are much younger than am I. Doubting that their education and experiences form a worldview much like my own, I have stopped searching for an editor. As my husband and favorite critic warns, ‘Your Pollyanna Perspective would annoy most millennials.’ That is the reason why I am searching for a screenwriter: to translate my words about our post-modern times into a beautifully moving picture. This will dilute my painstaking narrative to 90-pages of essential staging and dialogue. Such a sacrifice is worthwhile if my stories will create thought-provoking visual ideas. Meanwhile, and while that pesky misplaced comma continues to dog me like an Internet Troll, what difference will it make ‘on the bigger picture’?
A book comes and says, ‘Write me.’ My job is to try to serve it to the best of my ability, which is never good enough, but all I can do is listen to it, do what it tells me and collaborate.” Madeleine L’Engle
I grew weary of the flash & burn, turn the pages of Chick Lit and other best-selling commercial novels. I need to know what the characters look like, where they live, their deepest secrets, weaknesses, and what others think of them. These questions led me to stop reading fiction altogether – which is another way of saying, I understand if you don’t like my style. And yet, I persist! Surely every serious creation must include the grueling task of editing, which we hope will result in a higher mastery of language.
This is just one discovery on the journey of #SEVEN DAYS IN CARRINGTON. Algorithms are damned, and as this graphic image illustrates, I do not aspire for approval from The New York Times’ readers.