My lovelies, I must confess that I’m heartily sick of proofreading. I have about 75 pages of my book left to comb through, and I’m so tired of second-guessing all of my commas that I just want to throw my proof copy away and say, “Suck it. You get what you get.” But then my perfectionism takes over and I plod through one more page or one more chapter.
Even when I’m done with this, and I convert it to e-format, I’ll still read it through one more time checking the formatting, the fonts, and any lingering typos.
Part of the reason why I set a publication date is because I could, conceivably, do this forever. While it’s important to do things well–especially when you’re self-publishing–there comes a point when you get stuck in a loop where you never actually accomplish anything (a problem I’ve been having lately). So, there comes a point when it’s better to go forward with what you have–flaws and all–than to forever procrastinate.
Jon Sayer has an interesting theory about “the latent heat of writing.” Working with the scientific principle that energy is neither created nor destroyed, he thinks that the energy and effort that we writers pour into our pages gets transferred into the people who read our books. That may seem a bit farcical until you consider that, right now, you are burning the energy of the sun. The sun’s energy is transformed (via photosynthesis) into plant matter, which you either eat, or another animal eats it and converts it into protein and fat, and then you then eat it. (I think it was Carl Sagan who said we’re all star dust; not only are our bodies made from atoms which originally came from stars, but we’re powered by our own sun.) So, once you get your brain wrapped around that idea, transferring energy into and out of words on a page doesn’t seem too farfetched.
My dad is a professional comedian, and he’s talked about this phenomenon on the stage. He said doing stand-up is exactly like the Bob Seger song:
Out there in the spotlight
you’re a million miles away.
Every ounce of energy,
you try to give away,
as the sweat pours out your body
like the music that you play.
My dad puts all of his energy into his words, trying to get the people on the other side of the stage to laugh. And if you’ve ever left a good comedy show or movie or ball game, you are uplifted by it. You do feel energetic and better for having been in the audience. In a way, the players are putting their energy into you.
I think Jon Sayer is right that writers do the same thing. Everyone who likes to read has felt the thrill of being completely immersed in a book, to the point that when you’re brought back to reality, you feel disoriented–even traumatized. I think, in a way, that’s you absorbing the writer’s energy. (Psychologists refer to this–and the fact that you often take on some of the characteristics of your favorite character–as “experience-taking.”)
As much energy as I’ve put into my first book, I sure hope plenty of people get immersed in it. It’d be a waste of energy if that didn’t happen.
And if you missed my post last week, I’m raising funds via Kickstarter to get my book’s website launched. People who contribute $1-$4 get a copy of my short story, “The Last Golden Dragon.” People who contribute $5 get an advance copy of my book, Acceptance. People who contribute $6 or more get both. Details here.