By Rebecca Manuel
So, my good friend from college has written a book. Not like a NaNoWriMo, full-on novel, but a cute, personal, anecdote-filled comic book about her life as a Texan living in Tokyo, married to a Japanese man. Cool, right? What’s even cooler is that she’s getting a pretty large following online. You see, she started a blog about three years ago that was just meant to document her study abroad experience in Japan. Now she draws comics and makes YouTube videos as well, and her most recent foray into foreign territory was in publishing her book. And now she’s even making a second book!
So what the heck does this have to do with anything? Sounds like I’m just plugging my friend’s work, right? Well, the point is that I’ve been editing her second book for the past month – ever since I returned from my winter vacation – and I’ve really gained an appreciation for just how hard the editing process truly is. If the structure isn’t right, if the transitions aren’t working, if the flow isn’t flowing, the whole piece needs to be reworked. I had to help my friend through a few of these, since her comic book also includes some blog posts. Some of her comics needed altering as well. Formatting issues needed to be corrected. Font issues, consistency issues, spacing…and, of course, that’s not even including the obvious grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes.
To catch all these things, we both had to go through the entire book, re-reading everything multiple times, looking at the big picture, looking at the details. We’re now on our third (fourth?) and most likely final full edit of the book, and I’m still picking up on mistakes. But those mistakes have gotten smaller each time, and each time my friend tells me how happy she is to see how much better her book has become.
I don’t take all the credit, of course – this has been a team effort – but what I’m saying, after all my anecdoting (totally made up that word) and waffling, is: have someone else read your writing – even if it’s just a friend, not a crazy, grammar-Nazi, English major like me. Having someone else read over your work to pick up on the mistakes that you’re not seeing will help you improve your writing and your story. It will be difficult. I especially find it difficult to share my work with others because it feels like I’m sharing an intimate part of myself. But even if you don’t feel this way, you might still find it difficult to have someone pick apart the words that you spent so much time and effort crafting.
NaNoWriMo might have finished over two months ago, but as the regular emails from the official website attest, it’s never over. So pass your papers to the left. Give your work to a friend to look over. It’s worth it. I promise.
And when you’re finished, send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is Rebecca signing off. Over and out!