Monday, May 17, 2010

Resting On Our Laurels

I'm reading a book by a well-known author. One who pumps out a novel every year or so. The reviews on the back are stellar. The Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post Book World shout the author's praises, calling him/her gifted, as the author has won many publishing honors. I would have to agree the stories hold my interest and I'm always satisfied once I'm finished reading.

But here's what bothers me. As a writer, there are things you just don't do. For me, the stakes are even higher, because I have no laurels to rest on. For the sake of not embarrasing this author, I'm not naming him/her. It is not my intention to do that. There is nothing to be gained by it. My question is this: Do editors just skim the work of popular writers? Are popular authors so pressured to finish their next book, that they depend too much on editors?

In the book it reads: She pushes the hair off her face and tucks it behind her ear.

Then, on the same page, about three paragraphs down, it reads: Her hair falls across her face again, and she tucks it behind her ear.

It's not a huge mistake, and most readers would not even recognize it as one. But to me, as a writer, I would find another way to say tuck it behind her ear. Or write something else, entirely.

Lord knows, when I read my earlier published work, I cringe at the mistakes I find. I'm not beyond making them and all writers do. But I would like to think we all get better with practice, and that someday, if I am ever blessed with the kind of critical acclaim this writer is blessed with, that I will continue to pour over my manuscript as I do today. And before it's published, I trust my editor will do the same.

I have become anal to a fault. Maybe it's a good thing, and maybe it's not. But this I know for sure--should I ever have any laurels, I'll never rest on them.

I don't know who said it, but I once heard we are only as good as our last book. I have to agree.

Blessings to you and yours.

1 comment:

Lesley Ann said...

I absolutely notice repetitive phrases, incorrect punctuation and TYPOS. It drives me mad! Please don't rest on your laurels. ;-)