Thursday, 18 October 2012

OH THE AGONY OF EDITS: My poor aching hands - and my manuscript was finished

TOP 28 Finalist in


I guess the truth is, I never thought I would make the cut, and to say it was a bit of a shock is an understatement. 

I practically fell out of my chair on Monday morning when I opened my e-mail and saw a message with Congratulations in the subject line.

My first thought was, wow, I won a free book! ha ha. So I opened the e-mail and much to my delight and surprise, there it was. My first official contest letter telling me congratulations and that I had made the cut! It even had and official, Dear Carolyn, (oops, so much for the pseudonym - and I thought I was being so mysterious) letter, which made it even more personal. The letter went on to say, Francesca My Love had been selected as one of the top 28 finalists in the So You Think You Can Write contest for 2012.

That is about as far as I got when I picked up the phone in one hand and tweeted/texted/e-mailed in the other. I still don't think I have read the whole letter because every time I pick it up my eyes only manage to get as far at the first sentence - which I have memorised now. 

October 15 will never be quite the same for me again. There are times in all of our lives when things happen and somehow the dates get seared upon your soul. October 15 will be added to the handful of dates that already reside there.

Fast-Forward Four Days:
Today, after four days of madly editing my manuscript I sent my baby off into cyberspace with a tear in my eye and a song in my hear....and an hour to spare. I thought I was alone in taking it out to the eleventh hour, but according to a few of my fellow top 28er's who are Tweeting away, I am in good company. One of them only left herself 8 minutes! Another in the crew wrote 25,000 words in the last 48 hours - well done Bridgette!! So I am sure that it is not only my hands that are achy today. And having had to edit 85,000 words in three days was certainly a test of my endurance.

I am not kidding myself, thinking what I sent in is perfect. I am sure I missed a lot of 'things', in fact I know I missed a lot of things. I am sure when my manuscript is read many will find some major errors and a lot of what our primary school teachers used to refer to as, 'stupid mistakes'.  Let's look at that term - stupid mistakes.....Hmmm, here are some of the really choice ones I caught myself in:

grown vs. groan - I mean seriously, how did I get that one wrong? I blame the automatic spell check/change thingy my computer has built into it.

breeches vs. breaches - one is pants which I wear when I ride horses, and one is what the orcas do out here on the west in, when I am riding by the ocean on a horse wearing my breeches and see a pod of orca's swimming by, breaching and frolicking about in the water.... 

definately - defiantly -  definitely  - why can I never spell this word? definitely.

See, I clearly know what I am talking about on all counts so is it the spell check? Is it the "I am sooooo tired...." excuse? Am I just plain lazy? Or am I thinking faster than I can type?

I also had a slip of the hand at 2 AM Thursday morning. I did a search for the word "led" because for some reason my spell check (pesky spell check excuse again) changed my 'lead' to led.  So, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to change all "led"s to "lead"......and I was meant to go, one by one, but I accidentally clicked the wrong little box - I really should have put on my glasses, it was late after all. You can guess what happened next. My computer went ahead and did its thing, and when it finished, a little box flashed up on the screen, proudly announcing, "Number of words automatically changed - 700" I looked at it with blurry eyes and thought, '...hmmm, 700 words. Wait, 700 words? 700 word!!! OMG, WHAT DOES IT MEAN, 700 WORDS??!!! THERE SHOULD ONLY BE 20 OF THEM!!!' And as an FYI to all of you, the UNDO command does not work in this situation. Flip, this was a disaster.....

fled became flead
ledge became leadge
pledge became pleadge 

....and all I could think was, HOLY S#@T!!! Did that just happen? OMG! NOOOOOOOO! IT'S 2 IN THE MORNING, I AM TIRED, I NEED SLEEP!!!

Yup, I only had 12 hours left and I needed some sleep so I went to bed and got up at 5 AM to fix it. Which is why, I know there are going to be some major faux pas in there and I began to wonder if I had just shot my own dream out of the air. I will almost guarantee that if I open any page on my manuscript right now, I will be able to find something wrong. Hey, just for giggles, let's try it!

I've just opened my manuscript to page 237 (and you will be able to check this when it gets posted on-line shortly).....I'll be back after I read it.....stay tuned...

Okay, so maybe page 237 is not a good example, but I am sure there are major errors in there somewhere - I still can't find the 'pleadge', and I'm not talking about the wood polish. So, if any of you find something that 'screams' at you, feel free to let me know. Fresh eyes are much better than those that have fallen upon the 83,326 words numerous times. I was up to 86,978 at one point, but I do have a tendency to ramble so slashed and burned as much as I could. 

And finally, the last dismal thought as I am running through Francesca My Love one last time, the inevitable questions arise - is my pacing right? Do I have enough conflict? Do I have enough happy? Is this masterpiece actually interesting enough that someone might just want to buy it? Or am I flattering myself? Naaaaa, it's all good, I think...

I turned back to the SYTYCW site and had a look at the residual tweets that were still chirping around. I feel anxiety for those TWEETING who are still waiting to hear back, hoping for a call, because if I know anything, I know all about rejection, my heart goes out to them. My only advice, 'keep going' because eventually you will get somewhere. And rejection gets easier the more you experience it. I of all people know this, and I promise you, it hurts a lot less as you go along. It is also good because then people tell you what your problem is (manuscript not you personally) and you can choose to learn from the critiques, or fob them off as, 'they have no idea of what they are talking about'. And remember, you are both right.

That's it. So with two really sore hands (and forearms) from all the typing I did in the last four days, I am off to bed. A BIG THANK YOU to Harlequin for running this contest and providing me with this opportunity. It feels good. Real good.


1 comment:

  1. Congrats on making the cut! Rejection defines a writer! Some of my best rejections made my writing stronger. But the real pleasure? Recently I had the deep down satisfaction of rejecting a publisher! Ha to the Haha. Okay, I had a moment, but I'm over it now. I wish you the greatest success with Francesca! And don't worry about the stuff that got past you. That's what editors are for...