But all of this is starting to change.
After reading the recent release of Raymond Carver’s collection (minus the Gordon Lish editing), I’ve come to view these little ‘faults’ as an insight into the actual writer’s mind. I admire Gordon Lish’s editing prowess on Carver’s What we talk about when we talk about love, (frankly, he’s a genius) yet reading the unLished version Beginnings was like reading a memoir. I recommend reading the two versions side by side. It’s a fascinating experience. So many people rave about Carver’s simplicity but this really emerged through Lish’s editing which was vast (Beginnings is twice the length of the original).
I even recall one or two clumsy similes in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar but found myself thinking about her own head space when she wrote it. (The book is as close to perfection as you get so any clumsiness is forgiven).
Interestingly, these ‘flaws’ that writers and reviewers pick up on, are usually unnoticed by the reader which is a good thing. I think we can rewrite a piece over and over and edit until it’s just bones but sometimes it’s nice to see the writer’s personality. Not overly, but just a few determined signs that the book was written by a human being, not a computer program. Well, that’s just my opinion.
But while I’m on the subject of being open to a few ‘flaws’, I’ll draw the line at a plethora of lazy typos. I once worked with a colleague who self-published a book this year. I hadn’t heard from this person in a few years so was a bit surprised. I had a look at the sample on Amazon and in just a few pages there were more than five typos suggesting that there were probably hundreds more the further you read. And I won’t even mention the repetitive sentences (do I really need to be told the same thing several times?). And I won’t bore you with the legal ramification of just some of what I read...
With the arrival of Print on Demand publishing and the growing popularity of the ebook I gather self-publishing will become more popular. If you choose to self-publish, make sure you have access to a good proof reader and editor or even consider partnership publishing (at least you know it will be closer to, if not, a publishable standard).
And finally, diet tip for the week: Don’t work in or near the kitchen (I’ve cheated because I provided this tip to a dissatisfied blog reader last week).