Deborah Jackson

Monday, September 05, 2011

Off-the-Cuff Commentary

It's interesting how writers have made the transition from closeted fiction writers with a wealth of editors scanning their material and demanding perfection before it hits the shelves to "off-the-cuff" columnists. It seems to be a necessary transition, since newspapers are disintegrating, publishing houses are spiralling downward and people are still looking for quick news feeds or, in particular, opinion pieces in which they can weigh in, either to object to or agree with the blogger. It's the era of instant connection, therefore the painstaking effort of scrutinizing every word is thrown aside for the quick news flash.

I find this particularly difficult, since I'm somewhat of a perfectionist where language is concerned. Not that I get everything perfect, but I'd like to see my pieces as polished as possible before they're released. I'm now writing on topics related to my expertise: writing, science and science fiction, history and historical fiction, but what I find extremely daunting is the new miniseries I've begun: Matt and Sarah's Misadventures. I pore over it before posting, I ask my daughter to do a quick read (since she's a lit student) and I ask my son to tell me everything a kid would not say, in this day and age. Then I post, with a tingling of apprehension.

If you haven't noticed, so much of what is posted on the web today is done without forethought and definitely without spell-check. I keep wondering do other writers find the transition nauseating? Or at least somewhat uncomfortable? We're so used to spending months discussing manuscripts in a critique group, then trading commentary with an editor, then passing the work on to the copy editor to tidy up any loose ends. I've seen bestselling award-winning authors post entries that were riddled with typos, and sometimes even grammar errors. It should be plain by now that many authors are not grammar gurus, but are blessed wordsmiths in other ways, or have such a vivid imagination they can transform any mundane plot, that has been repeated over and over again in the past, into something fresh and exciting. We have varied skills.

So I wonder, do readers forgive imperfections? Do they look at an author's book and feel the same way once they spot the warts? Or is it that they come to like the author more, for being human. I know I love James Durbin. Not just because he's such a talented singer/performer, but because he overcame his human difficulties to become such a talented singer/performer. We are who we are.

So I blog. I resisted for a long time, writing every few months in fits and starts, where everything I wrote emerged consistently as a story. But I am nothing if not adaptable, just in a stubborn-mule fashion. So I make a concentrated effort, I opine, then I scan, then I post. But I wonder, will I ever feel good about it?

1 comment:

Damyanti said...

Writers need to change with the times, and we all need to do our bit. Thanks for stopping by my blog.