Monday, January 17, 2011

Q-tips, please.

Some people call it karma. In our family, we call it earwax.


When my father-in-law was a kid in school, he noticed that the boy in front of him had a bunch of earwax in his ear so he teased him. Then guess what happened? The very next day, my father-in-law had earwax coming out of HIS ear. And now he doesn't tease people any more. I haven't heard him tease anyone the whole time I've known him.


But that's beside the fact. We're talking about earwax. Or karma.


A few months ago, I read a book from an author I like. And I was kind of let down by what I would term a little bit of the "sloppiness" I found in this book. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't as good as it should have been. Or as good as I've known her to be. There were little things, like metaphors that were too forced, words that were repeated that didn't need to be, slightly clunky dialogue tags. But it was distracting to me sometimes.


I mean, really, is it so hard to double check for some editing basics?


Ha.


HA HA.


I just read through what's called a press copy for my first novel. It's where it's all typeset exactly like it's going to look on the page. I was equal parts elated and horrified. Elated because it's one more step toward holding my very own real book in my hands. Horrified because it was riddled with mistakes. And here's the thing: I have read through it at least six times, start to finish. At least five other people read through it and pointed out mistakes. My EDITOR went through it. And still, there were mistakes. Not even grammar things or typos. Just stuff like using the word "wobbled" twice in two pages. Or overusing the word "just" even though I took a bunch of them out. Or saying something like, "She felt like the feeling in her legs was gone." (Or something similar and almost as bad.)


It's the kind of thing most readers won't notice. But I will notice. Most other writers will notice. It's mortifying.


But it's kind of a done deal on some of this stuff at this point. So I guess I'll just deal with it and learn for next time.


But man, earwax sucks.

19 comments:

LisAway said...

I was wondering about the earwax, and now it comes out.

Great story about mostly worrying about keeping our own ears clean. :) (I can't wait to read your book and find all the flaws!! :)

Susan said...

I love how you tied that together. Now, when I get your book I'm going to be searching for the errors. Dang you! You shouldn't have said anything.

Dedee said...

I'm learning, albeit very slowly, to keep my mouth shut because it Will! come back to bite me!

Awesome post!

Carolyn V. said...

I love the earwax/karma. I've learned that I make a ton of writing mistakes. But then my next book will be better, right? (hopefully)

Kristina P. said...

I am obsessed with Q-Tipping my ears.

I promise to eat lots of chocolate while reading your book, so as not to notice.

Karen Peterson said...

I always notice that stuff. I'm glad to have some context now. I guess I'll be more lenient in the future, because it's going to happen to me, too.

Now I'm off to find some Q-tips...

Stephanie Black said...

Don't worry--you're going to notice this stuff far more than anyone else will. You won't have anyone telling you, "I loved your book, except you said 'wobbled' twice in two pages, and I just couldn't get past that."

But I can relate--as a writer, you want EVERYTHING to be perfect!

Melinda said...

I really do notice weird grammar, editing mistakes (if they're really bad--a few here and there doesn't bother me at all); so I really appreciate what you wrote, I hope I'll be more understanding the next time I read a new book! And hey, yours can't be as bad as Vampire Academy where it seriously said "He was examinating the room..." I mean its not just a misspelling, its not even a real word! hahaha (Is this going to come back to me in earwax?! Eek.)

I'm really excited for your book, I'm sure it is wonderful!

Charlotte said...

I must have made fun of a lot of ear wax in heaven...

Anyway, I always laugh at people who butcher grammar and spelling on facebook and noticed the other day how horrible several of my own posts have been. So I get it.

It is always easier to see those motes in others without seeing the beam in ourselves.

I'm excited to read your book, though. I fall off cyber world for a couple months and everyone seems to have exciting things going on.

Becca said...

This is why writers almost never go back and read their final copies. Because, really, what can you do? But, hey - I hear you. And I cringe with you.

Annette Lyon said...

Been there cringing. Not a pleasant place to be.

(Still excited to read your book!)

DeNae said...

In my "Gringo" book, a line was printed twice. At least 15 people read it before it went to print, and STILL, the line was duplicated. GRRRRR...

Becky said...

Funny that I should come across this today. I just got done reading a book by a well-known LDS author and felt a little disappointed. And you're right, 90% of people wouldn't notice, but I did. It's why I no longer re-read my old blog posts or emails or journals. It happens to the best of us, I guess. And by best, I obviously mean you. :)

L.T. Elliot said...

I hate earwax karma (which kind of reads like ear carmix, which makes me want to barf a little). It's good for me, I know, but I still don't care for it.

Kimberly said...

People should be required to read the earwax story before they're permitted to interact with other humans. Seriously.

Sympathies on the late caught errors. From what I've heard, it's just about inevitable. I wince at the thought of writers reading my work. I know when I'm in novel writing mode I become hyper aware when reading. It's rather annoying, actually . . .

Kim Coates said...

It always makes me laugh (inside my head) when I see a "writing mistake", because most readers don't even know about the "rules" to begin with. I fear the day when I (hopefully) get published, because I know it will come with imperfections!

MommyJ said...

I've read a few sloppy books... they make me nutty. I imagine though, that you are reading your own words with much more critical eyes than the general reading population. I'm sure it will be fantastic.

(And I promise, if I do find an error, I won't tell you about it. I'll breeze right past it like I never saw a thing.0

myimaginaryblog said...

My mom has this little figurine of an old Japanese guy holding a little wire to his ear, and somebody explained to me that the wire thing was supposed to be an "ear spoon," which apparently the Japanese use instead of Q-tips. I liked the idea that it scoops the wax out instead of pushing it in, and ever since then I've wanted an ear spoon. So when I was looking for pretty Origami paper at a Japanese market in San Diego this summer, I suddenly remembered to check the home goods section for ear spoons, and, sure enough, they had several types. I bought one. A couple of my kids have incredibly sticky and abundant ear wax, and I use it on them. It's awesome.

I'll leave it to you figure out what ear spoons have to do with the price of rice in China (or Japan). (I have no idea.)

I do notice the little goofs in even my favorite books, but in general I also think it's wise to do one's reasonable best, and then just get a book out there and not look back. (Spoken like the seasoned author of exactly zero books.)

Valerie said...

That explains the more blatant errors I find in books I read. I'm thinking, "I found this and an editor didn't?!", so it's good to know there's a lot more going on there! Great post!