[DWJ] not writing one's own books

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Jun 14 08:05:38 EDT 2006

>Minnow wrote
>> The book that made me wonder who had written it had no name other than
>> "Anne McCaffrey" either on the cover or on the copyright and credits page.
and Margaret reasonably asked:
>Which one was it?

I honestly can't remember.  It probably isn't on the shelves at home, and
I'm not there anyway (Pa had another stroke and I'm doing the
hospital-visit thing a hundred miles from home and sleeping at his house)
so I can't check.  One of the more recent Pern ones, is the best I can say.

>If there wasn't anybody else's name on it then I expect Annie wrote it
>herself and the editor failed to clean it up.  At the time when we were
>working together - about 10 years ago -  she was working so fast that
>her first drafts were full of typos and run-on sentences and what have
>you. I got in the habit of tidying up the previous day's work every
>morning before starting a new passage. I got the impression that she
>found this behavior utterly amazing and thought I was doing menial work
>that should be left to an editor.

That would probably explain it, then.  Thank you: I had been slightly put
out about it, in a mild sort of way, and now I don't need to be.

>I suppose it's just a matter of different tastes...I'm certainly not
>claiming that I never committed an awkward sentence...the difference is
>that some people can leave a first draft in a messy condition and churn
>ahead with the story, but if I hear something wrong with the prose then
>I feel compelled to clean it up before going on. Writing on past obvious
>errors or unfortunate phrases that I've already noticed feels like
>starting to cook a five-course meal in a dirty kitchen.

I'd worry that I would forget to change something I knew was wrong in an
earlier chapter, if I got it right later.  Even if I had a copy-editor I
absolutely trusted, I'd still feel all wrong about it.

I suppose, though, that if one were writing the whole thing by hand for a
first draft, or if that were how one had started one's writing career and
were what one was used to, one might simply carry on and trust to going
through the first draft with a red pen later when one reached second-draft,
rather than doing red-pen correction as one went along.  Computers make
retrospective correction a lot easier, since one doesn't have to re-write
whole pages to fit in the paragraph one forgot or to move something from
one end of a chapter to the other, but people who didn't start out with the
computer might have got set into a different way of doing things?

I know that my father, who wrote with a fountain pen always, used to leave
space at the bottom of each page of first-draft MS, just so he could add
bits he realised later had to go in *there* and not anywhere else.  In the
past five years he has written his memoirs on this computer, but he did
corrections by printing out and then using the pen at the bottom of the
pages rather than by moving things around on the screen.  As it were.


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