Thursday, June 27, 2013

Patience is a virtue? is the ability to proofread without missing anything the first time through.

Crap on a stick! I lack both.

I once had a professor who said something like this  “we fall in love with our own words and can not see errors.”

That was not an exact quote, and he may have been quoting someone else. I don’t know, but I do pass this quote on to my students when they write for me. I remind them that they need to write and then put the document away, for at least a day, before returning to it for proofreading. Do they heed this magnificent advice? No, but neither do I.  They don’t wait to proofread because most of them have written the paper 30 minutes before it was due, even though I gave them ample time to complete the work, in class, two days before. I don’t wait to proofread because I can’t wait to put my words out there. Really. It’s like I have a condition that prevents me from sitting on text for a day or even an hour.

I blame the ENFP in me for three things:
1. my lack of patience
2. my tendency to not return to a project if I do not complete it in one sitting
3. my distracted brain

Unfortunately, I do not see errors in my writing right away. I suspect this is because my brain thinks faster than I read. I know what the line should say (because I just friggin’ wrote it) and my brain magically sees the text just the way it aught to be.

As a teacher, this can be a problem because I have to respond to parents, coworkers, students, etc… in a timely manner. I don’t have the luxury of sitting on an email for a day. I have to force myself to practically read emails aloud before sending them to parents. The worst thing ever is when a parent notices an error and calls me on it. This has only happened twice, but I worry, and I mean I really fret. My favorite of the two was the parent who told me my “grammer” (sic) was wrong because I asked a question but ended the sentence in a period. Hehe
I am no grammar, spelling or punctuation tyrant because people make mistakes and I am usually of those people. I am that teacher who will not lower a grade for a typo or two so long as the problems are not due to blatant recklessness or apathy to the work.

As a writer the problem has presented itself in the form of query letters, the one place a writer should not allow a typo to slip by.  I missed one last week. I haven’t heard from the agent, but I can’t believe that she won’t notice. Waaaaah! I saw it in the first paragraph, the day after I sent the query, when I opened it to customize for a different agent.

I wish I could send dynamic emails that could be changed the moment I realized I sent an error.
I also wish Twitter allowed edits to tweets. Maybe I could get my husband, or some techie friend, to work on that.

Wish, wish, wish….

So, this first draft will be pushed live to the blog after a very careful read-through. Still, I’ll look at it tomorrow and gasp at all the errors.

What are some of your quick proofreading tips?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Agent Pet Peeve Violation

I recently read a blurb on What NOT to Do When Beginning Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents.” The article was not a list of the “The Top Ten,”  or even a "Most Common Complaints" but simply a list of individuals' pet peeves. It was informative and reassuring until I saw.. screeech... my intro… my opening line… the words I’ve loved since the inception of this novel... seem to fall into one category. 

My line:
My name is Carys Barbour, and I’ve just stubbed my toe on the corner of the most peculiar birthday present a girl could receive from her friends and family.

Pet Peeve:
“I don’t like an opening line that’s ‘My name is…,’ introducing the narrator to the reader so blatantly. There are far better ways in Chapter 1 to establish an instant connection between narrator and reader.”
- Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

Ahhhhh! Is my opening line a clear sign of amateur writing, or is this simply an annoyance to one agent who submitted a response?
Here’s the thing, I’m not at all opposed to changing my writing for an agent or editor who thinks different words would better suit, even if it hurts my feelings. My title, for instance, is underwhelming. I welcome the inevitable title suggestions. I’ll blog that later.
Should I rewrite the opening lines before submitting my sample chapters or write the story I want and then change it, should the suggestion be made? I just don’t want to turn people off to the rest of the writing, right away. Any advice would be appreciated.

I promise the rest of my blog posts will not be insecure ramblings of a newb. 

Sambuchino, Chuck. "Writer Unboxed » What NOT to Do When Beginning Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents." Writer Unboxed. Writer Unboxed, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 June 2013.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Warning: This blog will be full of cliché statements and things that have been said before…


…because, you know what? They fit the bill.

One of my best friends, since childhood, passed away in February due to a surprising diagnosis of lung cancer; surprising because she was a strong, healthy, young woman who never smoked and lectured anyone who did. The time between her diagnosis and passing was less than three months. It was horrible, and I won’t discuss it anymore except to say that the loss has inspired a sort of mid-life ass-kicking crisis with what I hope will result in a positive outcome.

Until now, I have lived in an invincibility bubble coexisting with so many of my high school students, who think nothing can ever go wrong and that we have “until forever” to get things done.  We don’t.
I don’t want to waste a moment. I may need to change my blog title.

Recently, I have finished the edits on my first YA novel (finished except for every time I open the MS and change something else).  I have sent queries and received my first rejections.  I have begun edits on my second YA novel, and I have written the intro and outlined my first NA novel. I have a bit of fire under my rear, and I’ve welcomed it. Even now, I sit at the kids’ swim practice typing this blog post because I refuse to spend the next 1.5 hours staring into space.

The downside of this obsessive work ethic is that I feel guilty simply sitting,  napping, social networking, or even just pleasure reading. I’m also irrationally bothered when I see others sitting idle. I realize I need to mind my own beeswax and deal with this baggage soon because everyone deserves a break, but I don’t have time for that today.

Why fire up the Procrastination Station blog? I left it because I realized nobody, besides my mother, even cared about the blog. Seriously, no one read it. I came to this conclusion when I read other personal blogs and found them to be rather tedious unless I had a connection to the writer, or he or she was fantastically hilarious. I wondered why people put their personal diaries online when no one really cared. I’m saying that very matter-of-fact. It doesn’t hurt my feelings. If a post is not relevant or impactful to the rest of the world, why blog it?  So, I stopped.

The blog is now important again because YA and NA readers are NetGeners. Authors need to be accessible to readers and perspective agents. Do I have an online presence? Yes, but I’m all over the place on Deviant Art, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc... My next short-term goal is to create a website so that readers have one place to access all things related to my stories, and the site will be all about my stories because that is what most readers care about. Once they are sucked into my tales, they may want to peek into my personal life, and I may blog about it from time to time but probably not right away because do readers really want to know the funny thing my 9-year-old said at breakfast? Probably not. If so, they can follow me on Twitter.

My rather directionless blog now has a purpose, and I am using it again, as a business tool. Even if I am procrastinating, I will be supporting my goal to be published, which makes me feel like I’m not wasting any of the time I have.