Monday, April 22, 2013

A fool and her words. . . .

. . . .are too soon published.

I'm trying very hard not to be that kind of fool.

As I blogged last month I'm in the process of preparing my first published novel, Legacy of Honor, for digital republication.  I knew it was going to be a rather difficult task, for a variety of reason, so I'm not really surprised that a month later, I'm still working on it.  I have a day job, after all, and other real-life obligations that take some of my time, too, and I still need to eat and sleep.

It's been a multi-step process, not always easy.  Although I'm changing nothing of the storyline, there are areas that cried out for better editing than the book got when Leisure published it.  If all I had to do were re-insert lines or paragraphs or even pages from the original manuscript, hey, no problem.  But there were two different edits involved, both of which did more than just remove text.  The intent of those edits was to improve the book, and for the most part, they did.  So my task is not only to fix errors that were made but also to avoid adding back any more. 

As I began work on one particularly delicate scene, I thought maybe it really didn't make any difference.  The changes I wanted to make were extremely fine-tuning in terms of clarity.  Would the reader notice the difference?  Would she care?  How many people, after all, had read the print version and never questioned anything?

Oh, wait a minute.  There was no Amazon in 1985, no Goodreads.  No forums for readers to complain, "WTF was that on page  XXX?  There are characters speaking who had already left the room!"  If I, as the writer who mentally knew how everything played out in the book, saw it and wondered about it, then I owed it to the reader to make sure those characters were put back on stage so they could speak.  And that the rest of the errors were fixed, too.

The writer is the book's first reader.  I know I would not want to read a book whose author knew about but didn't care about those details because all she really wanted was just to see her work in print -- even if it's only digital print. 

Even though some of these edits involve the careful massaging of three different versions of a scene to make sure all the crucial information is presented in the proper sequence so the reader can "see" exactly what's happening, and even though maybe no one ever would notice the errors if I hadn't fixed them, I  know they're there.

Legacy of Honor will have to wait a bit longer before its digital edition is published.  As impatient as I am to see it in "print" again after almost 30 years, I can wait.  And the readers?  All I can do is hope they're waiting, too.

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