Friday, 22 November 2013

AN ITCH YOU CAN SCRATCH - BUT IT WON'T GO AWAY



The desire to write is like an itch in the middle of your back.  Some days you can reach it, have a good scratch (write a couple of thousand words) and it goes away leaving you feeling calm and satisfied. 
Other times no matter how much you reach up your back (drag the thoughts from your brain), slide up and down the sharp edge of the doorjamb (pound the pc and shuffle the words about) you simply can’t stop the itch and satisfy the urge to write.
When the itch won’t go away the answer is to scratch away until it settles down.
Once upon a time authors scratched away on pads filling the lined spaces with untidy scribbles, hoping to get the hieroglyphics transcribed into something readable.  Then shock/horror,  if their manuscript had been typed and they wanted to add or delete a passage, this meant the whole chapter had to retyped.
Enter the computer. (An arpeggio of triumphant notes) How lucky can we be? Yes, voice recognition programs now exist that will transcribe our verbal mutterings into script, but it is far more satisfying to type, auto-correct, cut and paste, backspace, highlight and delete, add a paragraph in the middle of a chapter or delete a page here and move it to there. Oh! Bliss and joy.
Add to that we have track changes so we can view another author’s efforts, add comments and leave the original document intact. What luck.
If you are getting that itch and it’s making you cross, think about the speed at which we can write these days. We flick an email across the world and the whole manuscript arrives at a publisher’s site on a distant shore. No postage costs, no heavy paper parcels posted into the unknown ,never to be returned with the terse note of rejection.
The only downside to all this is everyone is now doing it. There is serious competition for the limited number of spaces that publishers have. People are self-publishing and this is one of the advantages of democracy. My only plea is please edit your work and have someone else edit it as well. Let’s keep the standard of content high.
If you want to satisfy that writer’s itch do so with the end view of presenting a professional piece of literature. This extra care will make your manuscript rise to the top of the ‘slush pile’ on your chosen publisher’s desk.
Meanwhile get scratching!