Linda Maye Adams

Making Something Easy Harder


Several years ago, I saw a call for papers for an anthology (the Voice of a Soldier anthology).  I was right up against the deadline though.  Since it was about vets and donating proceeds to a veteran’s memorial, I emailed and asked if the editor was still taking submissions.  She had a few slots open and would add it to the submissions if I could get it to her in two days.  So I speed-wrote this article, revised it, proofread it, and sent it off to the editor.  It was eventually published (though that turned into a horror story).

The other day, I got a spam comment from an editing service to my Proofreading post.  I hate proofreading because it is so boring, so I try to do things to minimize how much I need to do.  To me, it’s part of the tools of being a writer.  Not everything is going to be fun and enjoyable.  Other people hate dealing with Microsoft Word and still do it anyway because it’s the only way to get from Point A to Point B.  I do the same thing with proofreading.

The editing service’s comment was something along the lines of “Why do something you hate?  Let us do it!”  Here’s why not:

  • Because I usually find small revisions I need to make.  An editing service isn’t going to catch that because they’re not the writer.
  • Money.  Writers generally don’t get paid much–why would I spend $$$ on an editing service that’s going to take away from my profits?

But the last one is even more important than the other two.  I need to learn the skills to do the proofreading and keep them from getting rusty.  What if I come up against a short deadline like the one above?  I’m not going to have time to submit it to an editing service, wait for them to give me feedback, and then make the changes.  Proofreading is one of those things I find hard, but doing it also sharpens other skills elsewhere, and I win in the long run.

1 Comment

  1. bigwords88

    Proofreading also gives authors the joy (or frustration) of trying to add a layer or two of interconnected threads which can run seamlessly through novels whilst not drawing too much attention to the fact they are there. Hiding references under the overall text (whilst simultaneously giving a more concrete shape to the work) is one of the few joys I get from the process. A third-party intervention can also make things worse if they don’t understand the intent of a story, so the revising process is essential for an author to learn.

    There are tricks to minimize the awfulness of re-reading a paragraph a dozen times to get it perfect (or as good as possible), so nobody should ever feel there is an absolute need to hire someone to improve their work.

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