I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

A Writer's Nightmare

It is really one of those things you promise you will never do, especially having done it oodles of times before. No matter how many times you proofread your finished work (it must have been at least 10 times with my finished novel) mistakes slip through. I have just been browsing through the stuff I sent off to Macmillan New Writing, only to come across some glaring inconsistencies and errors in one of the end chapters. I am lashing myself with a greasy chain!

The lead man decides to "lay" down instead of lie down; someone pulls out a scrunched up letter from his pocket, even though it is in the hands of someone beside him (this is the danger of fast, savage editing); someone says something far too evident; there is a full stop missing from the end of a phrase. And this is just in one chapter that I was browsing.

Will this pour cold water on the person who may be reading - perhaps enjoying - my novel. Will they say to themselves: "This is not bad but shame about those little things in that later chapter . This isn't ready, like a cake that's not wrapped or in a tin."

I will flog myself some more, wait for the rejection (of course I'm staying optimistic and hoping that the brilliance of the rest of the material shines through) and will polish it 100 percent for the next potential publisher or agent.

That's what I said the last time though, and still there is always something that gets through. Does anyone know what I'm talking about here? Does anyone send out absolutely perfect manuscripts?


pundy said...

No, I think that happens to us all, every time. A novel is just so difficult and diverse. And of course you revise it so many time you become blind.

Hopefully, Macmillan will see past the minor inconsistencies.

Anonymous said...

No need to feel insane, or incompetent - you're definitely not alone. I completely rewrote my first novel about a half dozen times, which included something on the order of 957 read-throughs of the material, and I vividly recall many episodes of doing like my 769th read-through and seeing some completely glaring typo (in a section that hadn't changed in years) and boggling, How the hell did THAT slip through - 768 times??!!

No need, either, I think to despair. Manuscripts are just that - "by hand" - and editors understand that. This is why they employ armies of copy editors. I mean, yeah, it's frustrating to find these errors in submitted copy, but it's not fatal. You're being judged on whether you can write, on story and character and theme; you'll get a pass on punctuation.

And one other thing I can tell you is that your material will get a fair and thorough reading at MNW - something that can't be said about, oh, well, anyplace else.

Good luck!

S. Kearney said...

These are very reassuring comments. Thanks. I will ease up on the chain!