When an artist paints a picture they take their vision and transfer it to canvas for others to view, interpret and like/dislike. Unless the work has been specifically commissioned by a patron, I think it highly unlikely it would be partly or wholly repainted to accommodate another’s vision for the work.
Writing a book is a little different. The commercial realities of publishing render writing a more collaborative process. The people investing in the manuscript are entitled to request or suggest adjustments and edits to enhance the product. The author’s willingness to cut or rewrite is probably determined by whether the outcome fits with their original creative vision.
I was lucky that the proposed edits for Game as Ned were relatively minor. Book 2 is slightly more experimental and likely to provoke a broader range of reactions. Several of my test readers say they like it even more than my first book. It’s still early days for publishing industry reactions.
I’ll have a better idea of where Book 2 is headed, and what further work is required, early in 2009.
Yesterday I printed out the complete manuscript of Book 2 for the first time. I still have some blank spaces to fill and facts to check but it feels like a milestone – another step in the journey from inspiration to (hopefully) publication.
I find that my confidence in a manuscript ebbs and flows while I’m working on it. Sometimes I feel a story works well. Other times I think it flounders and will never see the light of day. While a hard copy read-through will give me a sense of sentences, paragraphs and passages that need more work, I might not get the same insight into the story as a whole until I hand it over to someone else.
I’m all for saving trees and reducing paper consumption but a hard copy read-through of a manuscript is a must. Why? Because you’ll be surprised just how many mistakes you find on a printed page, compared to reading from a screen. (As mentioned in previous posts, reading your manuscript aloud is also an enlightening, worthwhile exercise.)
The best thing about reaching the hard copy stage for this draft of this manuscript is that I can take it with me on my fact-checking mission. Yes, I’m heading back to Kangaroo Island this week to renew my acquaintance with specific lighthouses, museums, shipwreck sites (without diving) and a very special cemetery. I can’t wait.
Did you know? A lighthouse lover is known as a ‘pharologist’.
My seven-year-old son is a little young to read Game as Ned, much to his frustration. But, with a long car trip imminent, I agreed to let him listen to the audio version of the book with me – thinking I could skip over any of the more confronting parts of the story.
On the road, with my wife and daughter asleep, I put the first CD into the car stereo. Within moments my words were trickling from an actor’s mouth. I had goose-bumps.
When you write a novel you can expect to read it, rewrite it, reread it and so on, many, many times. By the time you’re done, you’ll probably know some of the passages off by heart. Indeed, one friend told me that “when you reach the stage you can’t see the words on the paper any more, it’s time to hand it over to someone else”. I know that sounds odd, but when you have read the same words umpteen times, your brain stops seeing them properly. There might be a blatant spelling error but you’re no longer capable of seeing it.
Anyway, hearing the first chapter of the Game as Ned audio book felt like a stranger was speaking inside my skull. By the second and third chapters I’d switched to listening to the actor, and how he skillfully interpreted the different characters. Then a really odd transition occurred.
Somehow, the editor switch was flicked on in my brain. I started listening to sentences and paragraphs and thinking “that line jarred” or “I’ve overused that word” or “I could have written that better”. It was another reminder that reading your writing aloud is one of the best ways to differentiate between passages that work and those that need more polish. After onscreen and then paper edits, a verbal read through is vital.
if you’re interested in the GAN audio book, please contact Louis Braille Audio.