Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Excellence takes effort

Today, it's easy to publish a book.  All you have to do is pound out a few ten thousand words and slap it up on publishing sites like CreateSpace, Lulu or Smashwords and you're a published author.  Piece of cake!


The mechanics may be easy, (if you can call writing a 50 to 100k manuscript easy), but what many aspiring writers don't realize (or don't want to realize) is that writing is only the first step.  And what follows tests even the most dedicated writer's patience.

Cuts, edits and rewrites.

There are no shortcuts.  If you want to put out quality work, these are necessary.  No one's first draft is perfect; no matter what they think.  Ego must go.  Even the cleanest draft can be improved.  We're shooting for excellence here.  When I was in my early twenties, I heard a phrase that has really stuck with me through the years:

"Good isn't good enough if better is available."

My first novel, The Summer of the Frogs, was written during NaNoWriMo 2008.  I didn't publish it until 2010.  I let it rest for almost a year before I even looked at it again, then spent nearly a year polishing it up.  My husband can testify how I moaned and groaned about reading through it yet again.  I damn near could've spoken it verbatim.  By the time it was said and done, I was so sick of it, I wanted to tear it up and throw it in the trash.  And that was just my part.  I also had beta readers.  People who took their time to go through it, caught the errors I continually missed.  (It's funny how the eye slides right over what should be glaring mistakes.)  They questioned turns of phrase, plot points and character elements until my poor manuscript was mostly red ink.

And even after all that, I went over it three more times.  Start to finish.  Analyzing each sentence as if it might carry the plague.

Sure, writing and publishing a novel is easy... if you don't care enough to put in the hard work it takes to make it worth reading.  And if it's not worth reading, why even bother at all.  Excellence takes effort.

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