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A land forged from the fires of strife, blood of heroes, and touch of the gods.
Where deeds of great valor, vile evils, and blazing passions intertwine
to shape the course of elven and human history within.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Proofs are here!

These are the four most anticipated words an author can hear.  This is the moment we wait for with anticipation, trepidation, and more than a bit of anxiety.  Because this becomes the defining moment of an author; do you have the courage to let this go after one more pass through the manuscript?
This is the moment of truth, the day you finally have to decide, is my story really worth allowing someone else to read it in true "book" form, not just a manuscript from my printer with smudges and edit marks all over it.  A real book.  A real hold-it-in-your-hand-and-turn-the-pages work of many months and many personal frustrations.  Is it good enough? 
All the feelings you had when you began this project come washing back like the incoming tide, and just as filled with seaweed and floatsam.  You can't help but see every single glitch and error and bad line of dialogue because they jump out at you like a pit bull on a frayed leash.  And you wonder, how can I let other people read this dreck?
So you let it set for a couple of days before you finally pull up the file on the screen and start reading very slowly, because you know you're going to find an error in the VERY FIRST LINE. Or worse, in the title block.  Which I did.
Finally you realize, I'm never going to get through this if I don't just do it; apologies to Nike, but that phrase has been around since forever and has nothing to do with shoes.
Slogging through the proofs is a chore, but you have to pay attention; otherwise how will you see all those errors you missed the first ten times through the manuscript?  And you think, how in the heck could I miss that???
So you correct that one, and the next one, and the next, and the next...  Your manuscript is filled with stuff you simply missed many times over.  Then you wonder, if I missed it last time, what am I missing this time???  So you start over and pay more attention; after all, you're not reading, you're (supposed to be) editing!  For the last time!  Before you release the proofs to become the book you always wanted to write. 
Like I said, just a bit of anxiety there, huh?
My advice?  I've done this several times, even reprinted my first two books after going over them again in finished form.  Found bunches of stuff I missed, that's why I reprinted.  And I'm still finding them today.
So hire yourself a proof-reader, or coerce detail-minded friends to lend a hand.  Heck, if you have lots of friends, have them each do a chapter, or several, depending on how long your chapters are.  Mine average about 12,000 words.  Make a party of it, or a long night of it, or both.  But get it done, alone or with others, because if you don't, you'll never know the satisfaction of holding that finished book in your hands.  And if you don't take that last step and find that final courage in your heart, you might still be a writer, but you'll never be a published author.
And that's what drives me on.

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