SunWinks! Sunday Gather Writing Essential Dec. 23, 2012: Why Do You Need An Editor? II (SunWE)

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on December 22, 2012 0 Comments

Dear Gatherphiliacs:

A very blessed holiday full of family, togetherness, warmth, and love to each and every one of you.

I spent several hours Friday writing this.  Tomorrow, Sunday, I’m going to see Carol’s closing performance in It’s A Wonderful Life, then she and I will head to the beach for three nights, for Part Three of the Honeymoon That Never Ends.  So, today, instead of spending the day writing my usual column, I’m declaring this my column and wrapping presents instead.

By the same token, you have much more important things to do on the 23rd of December than responding to my prompt.  Wishing me a Happy Birthday, for example.  Yup.  I’m 59 today.  No, really.  I know, I know, I don’t look a day over 48…



Why Do You Need An Editor? II*

I saw this book in our Friends of the Library Bookstore. You’ve probably run into something similar—the store, that is. People donate their unwanted books, volunteers arrange them on display shelves, library patrons choose their purchases and pay on the honor system.

The book is The Chronicles by Karol-Ann Roberts.  I pulled it down thinking it was a literary journal.  It’s a beautiful-looking perfect-bound slim volume of poetry.  Kari has evidently self-published this through the self-publishing outfit (a few years ago we would have called it a “vanity press”) Xlibris.

Here’s what it says on the back cover:

This book of poetry is telling the story of how two people finding each other, fighting through their own individual hell’s to getting there.  This story is going explain what stand’s between each other in order for them to fight them.  There are many roles that are being played in this story, nothing is complicated because everything is simple.  It’s how these roles are entwined with one another that makes this story haunting and difficult to read.  Be for warned before reading.

My name is Karol-Ann Roberts but I also refer to Kari Roberts…I was born March 20, 1990 in National City, CA but currently living in Vancouver, WA.  I was beaten by my mother when I was three yrs old, molested was I was six and diagnosed with Tourette syndrome that year. […] It’s been two years since I have those problems currently I remain stable. […]

“Oh, my!” I said, and immediately put it back on the shelf.  A couple days later, I went back, paid the 50¢, and brought it home.  Because it had occurred to me: what a spectacular real-life example of the pitfalls of self-publishing.

I leafed through the book.  As I suspected, the back cover was only the beginning of the carnage.  Immediately preceding the poem “The Lion’s Cry Part II” is the poem “The Loin Cry’s Out From Tears He Cried To Himself.” Another poem is titled “Angel’s Purpose In Bis Mission.”

Here are some sample lines from the bodies of the poems:

I would finally get thing’s right this time

needed in way’s I don’t speak of

I’m starting to pissed off

the one standing by my side is the one I can bare to love

helping me with thing’s I don’t know how to heed

warning’s that have been told

You’re still missing form us Angel

know that you will be alright Ange;

Angle has kept all our secrets intact and maintained

we have our own plan’s

How many much more than twice/will you allow you self to step over lines

Writing word’s down that, I don’t want you to read

I’ve wondered the path/with much more to go

causing you pain/your min shattered

I thought I could be the one/who brings damned soul’s to the place there heart’s where they truly belong

Changes will com to you very shortly

Show independent effort/courage in any and all oppositions/you cannot loose

I’m not going to nudge you bu your side, anymore

I need you all to come into my life/realistically that has but yet to seen at this point

Watcher on the the other hand does

there too many wants to full fill

I’m scared about no understanding your spirit

I know your scared

they aren’t ready for what is called for there hearts to bare

show it too me/take me right here on floor


Kari is a survivor.  She’s had a tragic, harrowing life, and she’s only 22.  Her voice deserves to be heard.  She’s obviously spent some serious coin in search of a wider audience.  The printing and typesetting is beautiful.  But with editing like this, it’s hard to imagine, outside of her immediate circle, who will be inclined to take her seriously or to spend $19.99 for her book at Barnes & Noble.

The competition is so overwhelming these days.  All it takes is some tiny thing to lose someone’s attention and—click—they’re gone.  This is why you need the services of a good editor.  Do you want glaring errors of grammar and punctuation to prevent your potential audience from getting your message? If someone has gotten as far as actually trying to read your work, do you want errors of spelling and usage to destroy the meaning you have worked so hard to set down on paper? I don’t think you do.

I’m very sensitive to the fact that I’m picking on Ms. Roberts.  I admit it, there’s no way to sugar-coat it, and I do apologize.  But I’m making a very important point, I hope.  Not everybody can be a word nerd.  You may not be able to spell your way out of a paper bag, but your voice is very important just the same. If Kari had been fortunate enough to find my publisher, Chipmunka of London, which happens to be a non-profit organization specializing in publishing mental illness survivors, she would have benefited from the services of Chipmunka’s editorial interns; her project would have been cleaner, more attractive, more understandable, and have had a much better chance of reaching the audience it deserves.**

Try this:

Look through those excerpted lines above (there are 25) and identify the errors.  How many errors can you see?  (I count at least 40.)  Can you see errors in all 25 lines?  In how many lines can you not find an error?  5?  10?  More?  If so, you need the services of a good editor, because those errors will slip by you in your writing.


* Installment 1 of this article is here.

** On the other hand, Chipmunka doesn’t pay advances, pays royalties only once a year, and has no promotional staff.  And what if your specialty isn’t mental illness?  What if your particular piece of the wisdom doesn’t have a Chipmunka?




Responses to previous prompts below. Let me know if I missed yours.

© 2012 Douglas J. Westberg. All Rights Reserved.  Please share this on, and elsewhere on the web by means of a link back to this page, but please do not copy.   Doug’s latest book is The Depressed Guy’s Book of Wisdom from Chipmunka Publishing.

Doug’s Gather Group is Depression and Creativity, devoted to creative writing about depression and related illnesses, and creative writing as therapy.  Please consider joining.  You can read more of Doug’s posts there, or here.


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About the Author ()

57 year old musician, poet, father of 4 grown children, composer, recording artist, author, humorist, survivor. I'm thoughtful, introspective, introverted, open, scathingly honest about myself, creative, a Renaissance guy, willing to grow and change and

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