As many of you know I have put my first mystery novel out into the universe through Amazon which is a form of self publishing. I did this knowing full well that the book had warts that probably needed some fixing. I wasn't certain of what they were as we are never certain if our own babies are as cute as we think they are or as perfect.
I picked up a copy the other day and started to read it again. For those of you who do write you will understand the feeling of fear when you pick up your own work especially if it is fresh. I was ready to give it a read from a distance so to speak. I found errors and places where names were incorrect. It brought to mind my Masters Thesis that went through ten hands to ensure my participants' real names were not used. After all the hoopla was over which included defending the thesis to a committee I sat and reread the whole thing to find that we all had missed one name that didn't get "fictionalized" in the final draft. This stuff happens.
I am a student and a teacher of reading and have been for a long time. I agree with those folks who say that we need to ensure that our language is spoken and written the best we can. But as a student of the act of reading I also know that our minds skip over errors and omissions and substitute what we know should be there without even realizing we do that. Since it's been awhile since I have marked papers I have gotten away from being little miss red pencil with most of what I read. I see the errors sometimes and sometimes I don't. I note it but if I am intrigued by the story or the article and the author has done a good job of engaging me I leave the red pencil on the desk.
As I am working to be a writer that others will want to read I am becoming more critical of errors in text. And not in the red pencil approach but more in the "note and keep on reading" kind of way.
So to have my own errors out in the public domain for others to read has made me hesitate somewhat when folks approach me after reading the novel Beyond Me...A Principal Mystery.
What has happened has renewed my faith in readers and in the general niceness of the people, many of whom I do not know very well.
I have received lots of good feedback about the characters, the plot and the setting. I have folks telling me they are looking forward to the next one in the series. But as one person put it, "I was almost afraid to read it in case it wasn't good and I wouldn't know what to say to you." She went on to say how surprised she was at how good it was. That's a compliment.
Others have ordered copies for their family members or friends. Others who know something of the situations I describe tell me they would love to answer any questions I have for my next one if I am going to include information that they are experts in. One person who edits for a living was kind enough to tell me she really enjoyed the book. Her strong editing personae came out when she went on to offer to edit for me on the next one since she noticed some errors in this one. It was said graciously and I believe in a genuine desire to help. I took that to mean that she didn't think I was hopeless or a lost cause and the story was good enough for her to want to take on the next one. Another reader told me he read it with his red pencil down. He enjoyed the story and gave a second copy to his son who is also writing.
So this novice is grateful for those readers who have allowed me to make mistakes and keep on going.
And to anyone who is afraid to put themselves or their work out there in case it isn't perfect I say do it. That to me is how we reach for perfection.