Friday, December 17, 2010

Unfinished Business #2

 A peek at the world of Dragon's Ark

(Second in a series)

As I wrote here a few days ago, I’m busy.

My proofread of Dragon’s Ark speeds along now, without crashes. After I print out the Adobe file for hardcopy proofreading, I close the file until it’s time to enter the corrections. Then I print out the next chapter and close the file again. Save constantly. Keep all other programs closed, except for music. Finally, at the end of every session, I send the file to my thumb drive. My Adobe program has behaved with exemplary calm and good sense.

BTW: I recommend all writers do a hard-copy, mechanical proofread (NOT a copyedit!) before you send your manuscript over to your interior designer; you can pay to have it done (by me, for example); or, you can take some proofreading courses and do it yourself, so long as you be sure to close off the creative part of your mind—lead curtains recommended--and focus strictly on the mechanics: formatting, punctuation, dropped or wrong words, essential grammar errors, misspellings and minor mistakes only.

Getting your mind in that space is hard and not everyone can do it, but it is possible. I pretend I’m Mr. Computer Voice, flatly droning along aloud, enunciating each syllable and punctuation (“Dot ... com ... Bang!). If you dropped by my office to eavesdrop, you’d think I’d gone mad.

All in all, it means less work for both you and your designer and lower costs for you! Another lesson learned by me.

Now, I’ve been closely following the self-evolution of the independent publishing field, this new model of ultra-accessible literary expression, as it unfolds into the future. Last time, I summarized the great deal of work that this independent author/publisher is doing to get his book to the world in the remote hope that it becomes a success.

As this model emerges in its jury-rigged fashion, I detect weaknesses in the structure, possibly significant ones. This piece intends to further the discussion.

First, I’ll propose that a majority of writers only have one book in them, a good book to be sure, a very useful, well-written, non-fiction work like a how-to book, a memoir of a singular experience, a modest history of one of life's obscure corners. Then it’s back to teaching, doctoring, nursing, building, governing, plumbing, chefing, etc. and all the other Work of the World, all of it more important than anything I could write.

This is one definition of Good. There may even the profoundly self-aware novelist who writes one excellent novel and says, “That’s it! I’ve said my say! See ya at the fishin' hole!” (Harper Lee comes to mind.) These individuals are to be admired, respected and maybe even followed.

Further, these writers can go on marketing and publicizing their single contribution forever and never have to worry, because that’s their thing and their proud, and satisfied as are the readers who read it. It may even provide a steady, if minor, income stream—pay down the publishing debts; pay down the mortgage; occasional dinner at Chez Panisse.

But then there’s the rest of us. The writers who can’t shut up.

What about us?

(To be continued)

(re-edited 12/18/10)

Copyright 2010 by Thomas Burchfield

Photo by Author 

Thomas Burchfield's contemporary Dracula novel Dragon's Ark will be published March 15, 2011 by Ambler House Publishing. Other essays and postings can also be read at The Red Room website for writers. He can also be friended on Facebook, tweeted at on Twitter and e-mailed at tbdeluxe [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.


AL Levenson said...

Margaret Mitchell also comes to mind. I am enjoying your take on the changes going on in the self-expression industry.

Thomas Burchfield said...

Thanks, AL!

Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci said...

Excellent points all around about the seemingly constantly changing publishing/writing industry! Incidentally, I've been polishing my first novel with a ghost editor highly recommended by professionals I trust. She's taught me a lot, and her advice has made my novel tighter and better without muffling my narrative voice (not to put the whammy on it :-)).

Thomas Burchfield said...

Thanks, Dorian. And congrats on getting a compatible editor! That became an issue with "Dragon's Ark" and I'm going to have be more cautious and thorough next time.

Janice Maddox said...

Is that picture of the crags at Dunsmuir outside of Mt. Shasta?

Thomas Burchfield said...

Hello Janice:

Nope, that is the eastern Sierra escarpment--the Mt. Whitney/Lone Pine area.

Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Computer Voice" indeed. Scrivener has a text to speech function. I select a chapter, close my eyes and listen. My ears catch a lot more than my eyes.

Thomas Burchfield said...

Thank you for that, [com] Tony [bang]. I shall look into Scrivener[bang].