Adventures in Writing a Novel

Controlling the Art of Self-Pity #writing #amwriting #writerproblems

After coming off of a few days of writing bliss, I was not expecting the powerful blow I received this morning. With a thud, my butt hit the floor, and though I have since stood back up and dusted myself off, I can’t help but notice the rather large black and blue bruise in the mirror.

Certainly, I am confident in my writing ability, and I believe I have a very strong story with a very, very enticing beginning. But I also realize that there are probably numerous books authored by people who believe the same about theirs as I do mine. Unfortunately, though I am confident in my writing, I’m not confident in my grammar, and more often than not, I consider myself very grammatically challenged.

And that is the problem – the blow – that has left me bruised.

For months, I have been anticipating the night when I finally hear the results for the book contest at the OWFI conference in May. While I’ve never allowed myself to believe beyond a doubt my book would win or place in the top three, I did imagine at least a few times how I would feel walking up to the podium to accept my winning certificate. How could I not?  To not picture the joy would be harder than not imagining what I would do after I won the lottery, which admittedly, I have done.

The whole month of January passed in a blur. I was in the process of a company audit, the corporate officers from Italy were visiting along with the owner of the company, I was fighting a cold, trying to plan my daughter’s birthday party, and I was trying to get the Preface and Chapter One ready for the contest. In the end, I didn’t have time to get my submission to my wonderful cousin for copyediting before the entry deadline. Of course, part of me knew my submission wasn’t perfect, (Hello! Grammatically challenged person talking here!) but at the same time, I thought that I had combed through it enough that I had at least caught and corrected anything that would keep it from placing or receiving an honorable mention.

I didn’t believe “I had it in the bag” but I believed I was at least holding the darn bag.

So you can imagine my cringing shock when I opened up the finally copyedited document today and (BAM) saw all the red lines on the first page of the Preface. Ugh. Even hours later, my head still hurts from hitting the table. While I admit the errors are not catastrophic, I fear they are disastrous enough to keep the book from placing. How could they not? Last year there were seventeen entires in the Historical Fiction category. How could a book with grammar, sentence, and word usage errors even be noticed in a stack of seventeen other books that have probably been copyedited or at least written by someone who actually paid attention in English class?

Perhaps I am overreacting, perhaps I’m not. I won’t know until May 5th when I’m sitting at the table in the hotel ballroom. Certainly, I feel deflated. Certainly, I don’t want to face the notion that I, more than likely, ruined any chance I had. But with that said, I certainly can’t do anything about the situation I am now in so the pity party girl screaming in my head will just have to sit down and shut up. All I can do is lick my wounds, sit up tall, and keep working on the novel. Hopefully, I’m wrong about how detrimental the errors are, but at the same time, I can’t control that situation any more than I can control this one.

 

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6 thoughts on “Controlling the Art of Self-Pity #writing #amwriting #writerproblems

  1. Don’t worry! Grammar is easy to fix, and that’s what copyeditors are for. The story’s the thing! Remember that always. Also, there are other contests, other agents, other editors, and plenty of other opportunities. I think I read somewhere that J.K. Rowling got 67 rejections before she found someone willing to publish Harry Potter. Yes, get it proof read, but don’t pin all your hopes on one contest. Send it out there, work on Chapter Two, have someone help you with grammar and punctuation/ All these things are steps on the way to success. Best wishes!

  2. Definitely don’t worry. The story is gripping and moving. Authors have editors for a good reason – because they need them! You should see the things my son’s college writing teacher lets get past her – and the things I’ve seen written by the high-level university professors whose work I’ve edited. Any publisher is going to look at the story and style first. Grammar and punctuation are all fixable, but a lifeless story is not.

  3. As bittersweet as it sounds, at least this gives you a chance to learn some new grammar skills/things to watch out for. Getting anything back covered in red slashes can crush your spirits, but the best way to get those spirits back up is to take what you’ve learned and make your next piece (or next edition of this one) even better. Good luck!

  4. Thanks everyone! I pretty much decided long ago that if it placed, it placed. If it didn’t, it didn’t. Not placing doesn’t mean that an agent will never want it or that a publisher will never buy it. It just simply didn’t place. I just felt kicked this morning. But oh well, on with the show, and I know I still have a amazing story…..I just suck at grammar. LOL.

  5. I just finished editing an amazing manuscript, and the author said she was embarrassed about how many little things I found and corrected. I told her that it’s my job as a copy editor to find those errors; it’s her job to write the story. And it was an incredible one. Perfect grammar makes the story easier to read, but really, it’s the story that counts.

    I hope you feel better about this soon and have a great time at the conference!

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