Wednesday, July 23, 2014
How many writers to change a lightblub?
I ain’t changing nothing!
Yes, we writers regard our manuscripts as our precious pets; to cut even one line of my deathless prose feels like cutting my very own kitten’s toes off one at a time.
Yesterday, with red pencils in hand, the church staff critiqued the proof pages of my local church history book manuscript. This presented me with the opportunity to exercise Christian virtues of patience, charity, and forbearance.
Good for my character, tough on my ego.
The pastor, church administrator, deacon—who once taught English grammar and punctuation—and I went over my manuscript one page at a time to eliminate redundancies, correct mistakes, and tweak the book.
The words of Jesus were not in red print; my own words on the other hand…
We tweaked about 30 pages out of my book.
Going into this meeting, I recalled Poe’s great terror story, The Pit And The Pendulum, in which the narrator fell into the hands of the Spanish Inquisition. All my apprehensions geared up into a defensive high alert—Cut the toes off my kitten! Never! Not a single toe.
Yes, that’s unreasonable, but tell my mind that.
As I prayed about this meeting beforehand, I resolved to be less of an ass that normal and to listen to the corrections and improvements of my betters.
All my apprehension was for naught. There was nothing to defend against. No one was attacking me.
The criteria I looked for in what I had written were: Does this honor the Lord? Is it interesting? Is it true? Does this need to be said? Will it uplift readers or is it a downer? Does this lightbulb need changing? Are names spelled right?
In many instances, the committee’s enthusiasm, insights, and input saved me from coming across in print as a cynical curmudgeon—especially in sections where my text covered religious controversies and conflicts. Although I did feel that the pastor’s removing one of my jokes was uncalled for; the line omitted from my text said:
“Wonder why clergymen wear collars? Same reason as pit bulls”.
Anyhow, the editorial meeting went smoothly with great suggestions and lots of laughter, give and take, and fish stories.
Then, later in the evening, my son Donald—who came over to rescue me from an emergency plumbing problem—advised me about computer elements, presentation, pricing, and e-book formating.
God willing, I’ll incorporate these elements into one more set of proof pages, then in a week or two, that book will go to the printer for publication… with the corrections made by these other wise people.