Not Always A Love-Hate Relationship   Leave a comment

To help keep up-to-date with the world of independent publishing, I make it a habit to “lurk” on a large forum devoted to ebooks, ereaders, and their fans. A subset of this forum is devoted to authors, and it has indeed been a gold mine of information. It is also, typical of the online realm, a font of opinions and a dumping ground for venting and rants. (Some of these are also informative, in their way, though perhaps not quite the way the ranters and venters might believe.) Browsing through all of this, I am struck time and again by how much of it amounts to complaints by writers that they don’t enjoy what they are doing. Define an aspect of being a writer, indie or otherwise, and do a search. You will find a discussion on those boards about what a loathsome pain in the ass it is. Editing, proofreading, and even writing itself (which absolutely baffles me) – each seems to have someone out there with their knickers twisted.

Some of the complaints are a bit disingenuous, much like listening to someone’s gripes about his or her spouse or children, even though that person wouldn’t be parted from that spouse or those children if life depended on it. But some of what I read is quite sincere, with a touch of surprise mixed in the generally aggrieved tones. The only explanation that makes sense for these complaints is that these people entered into the process largely ignorant of what it takes to “make” a book. Romanticized notions of what it means to be an Author rarely survive contact with the reality of it, and don’t usually die gracefully. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most of those who wring their hands over this or that unpleasantness, discovered in the writing process, give it up and quit writing after that first book, which likely didn’t sell in any case.

But many don’t give it up. For some, a strange sort of balancing act comes into play. Something about writing, or about seeing a book published (and if the luck is with you, selling), provides enough motivation to keep them going – or, at least, posting on that forum. They find joy in the process of writing, then roll their eyes and moan when it comes time to clean up the manuscript. Writing is something apart from the other aspects of the process of producing a book. It’s the fun part, like watching the flowers bloom in the garden. If only you could have a garden without all that dratted digging and weeding. But you can’t, of course, any more than you can succeed as an indie author without seeing to the editing and proofreading of your work. Even if you hire professionals, you still need to do these things, if only to reduce your expenses.

Commonplace as these gripes happen to be, they puzzle me. I see editing and proofing as inseparable parts of the same process, the one I think of as writing. Generating the text of the story is just the beginning, and since I’m worrying over such things as word usage and watching for dumb spelling mistakes while I work, I don’t have a sense of moving from one thing or phase to another when the emphasis shifts from spinning the tale to making it readable. After all, I’m just as aware of the story and the characters while “editing” as I am while “writing.” I pretty much have to be, to make it all work. That involvement with the story, all the way through, keeps the other aspects of the job from seeming like separate chores. I don’t finish the story and then edit it. I’m finished with the story when the thing goes live on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and others of that ilk.

All aspects of the process are for me as necessary as they are gratifying.  I may speak of each as something apart from the rest when reporting progress (or when I hit a snag), but that’s a matter of convenience, for the sake of efficient communication. Whether I’m forging ahead, going back over the material to make sure it hangs together, or cleaning the manuscript up for beta readers (Yes, guys, I do proof the thing before you see it. Hard to believe, right?), I am writing, that thing I most love to do in life. For me there’s nothing to hate about any of it.

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