Thursday, 10 March 2011

Still a Confidence Thing

I thought publishing a book would be hard!  Now I have to realise that taking the criticism for it is even harder. I realise that I am becoming utterly defensive... defensive is not good, defensive the way I feel it is the opposite of confident, defensive is counter productive.

So, let's look at the facts!

The book is completely self published,
  • it never saw a native speaker editing it, and hence it probably has as many mistakes as it has words. 
  • it never saw a native speaker editing it, and hence it completely reflects the way I think, act and talk.

In mathematical terms this would mean that my thinking, acting, and talking is rather awkward. Hmm?! True!

Language wise this reflects in a persistent misuse of prepositions, mixing up tenses, and mixing up the phrase structure. I am sure that somewhere somebody has a collection of phrases in which I turned a serious matter into something utterly ridiculous by messing with the English language.

Does it matter? I don't think it does! At least not in this case.

I do admire people like Victoria Coren or Stephen Fry. Oh, the wit that comes from the precision with which words and grammar are used. I have to admit: I never will get to that quality. At least not in my lifetime. I only could achieve their standards by using an editor. But would this be the right choice, I wonder?

If I were to write a novel, in which the story line has to be crisp, the characters solid, their language precise according to the role they play... or if it were a documentary, aiming to be as depictive and focused as possible, then yes, surely.

My book is neither of those. I needed about two years to be able to classify it. I eventually came across a writer/lecturer who, in one of his articles, elaborated on what makes a good memoir. And then I knew, that's what it is. Every story is a momento, a recollection I wanted to keep safe, or a thought that I have been shifting through my little grey cells over and over again. Some of the stories, although it may not seem so, were born out of hard labour. I would have had to pay a shrink a lot of money for the same outcome. So I am asking: How would I ever be able to let an editor touch those stories? This person who would not  know anything about my life, might rightly so ask me what I thought, and what I wanted to express, in order to find me a better phrase... to be honest... I wouldn't know the answer!

Once I had written about it, the problem was gone, I eventually could move on, I had gained another bit of freedom. I guess, that I am just am not willing to look back. Now that I have learned, through those very stories, how to keep my outlook forward, nothing will make me go back just for that little bit of compliance towards the English language.

So the question for me is not how to create the perfectly phrased book, but whether or not people understand what I am saying. An English colleague read the teaser and his instant response was: Oh, that's sweet! I can hear you talk when I read this. And when I explained my dilemma he responded: 'I do understand it perfectly fine!'

What else would I want to wish for?

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