Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Confessions of A Not-So-Skilled Writer

When I started my book Like A Cedar in Lebanon two years ago—it was during NaNoWriMo in 2010—I knew practically nothing about the craft of writing. Dare I even confess to fellow writers who may be reading this that I never even completed high school? I married just before my junior year. I did later—much later—get my GED and took some college classes, but nothing related to writing.

Who knew? Certainly not me--that having a good story and a fairly good grasp on proper grammar did not a good writer make. By the time I knew at least SOME skills in the craft of writing, I was 112,000 words and almost to the end of Like A Cedar In Lebanon. Then I was faced with the difficult choice of completely revising my manuscript, or leaving it as is. A complete revision of something that large seemed overwhelming to me. I literally had heart palpitations and sleepless nights pondering this dilemma. My indecisiveness was exacerbated by the fact that this manuscript was already in the publisher’s hands.

So what did I do? I did do some revisions, but basically I left it as is, except for grammar, spelling, and formatting issues. So--fellow writers, editors, publishers, agents—if you read my novel (and that’s wishful thinking on my part), YES, I head hop (not staying in the proper POV), I have too many characters and too much back story, I tend to tell and not show, and perhaps use too many exclamation points, or ellipses, or dashes, or whatever.

Here is my public apology for all of you who are offended by such things, or for those whose nerves are frazzled whenever they read a book where these things are evident. I am guilty. Ironically, the more I learn about all the little, or not-so-little, nuances pertinent to the craft of writing, I, too, pick apart a book I’m reading. But in a good way, not to be mean or critical. I’m just pleased, or maybe I’m more displeased, that I am able to spot these things.

Somehow, for me, it takes the joy out of reading.


  1. I know just what you mean. After reading so many how-to books on writing, I catch every little thing, too, but guess what...I'm reading books that got published by big name traditional publishers and they still have faux pas. I guess you don't have to be perfect if you have a great story. Besides that, a lot of the information on writing contradicts itself, so who's to say what's "right". I guess it's up to each publisher to determine what they want.

    Keep writing!

  2. Good for you for not allowing the 'grammar police' to poison your pen. Can you imagine what that would do to writers w/ ebonic traits? Or using a child's POV? Those very 'errors' are sometimes what creates that beautiful ambviance. Just ask ee cummings.
    Love your writing girlfriend!