Ghosts in the Pages

Well I didn’t post yesterday as I spent most of the day editing the first work I’m aiming to self-publish…. a novel on the early life of Elizabeth I called The Bastard Princess. Its the first one I want to take into the self-publishing arena, but it wasn’t the first one I wrote. Oddly enough the first book I ever wrote is still awaiting completion. It was about Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I’s mother and although I always knew she would have to die (I prefer historical fiction with an emphasis on the historical) I had real issues killing her off.

Perhaps one day when I argue with my partner about his snoring I’ll be in a suitably murderous mood to finish that book….

But the Bastard Princess was a story I was rather proud of, and the sequels in the series, of which there are two more presently with another three planned, continued to grow well. I liked the voice I found for Elizabeth and not far into the first book was overcome by the uncanny feeling that I was not in fact making up the story, but that I was merely writing down what the characters themselves dictated to me. Sounds nuts? Perhaps. but whenever a book is going well for me, that’s the feeling I get. I am not the author anymore, the characters are driving the ship and I am simply along for the ride.

But whilst I love, love, love the first draft….I don’t really like editing, this much I have come to see. I don’t think I’m very good at it, I get easily distracted by the story and find myself reading rather than actually watching for mistakes….I think others may agree, editing your own works is pretty hard.

The main issue I think it that when you are reading what are in reality, your own thoughts, your brain is more than happy to fill in the gaps for you. You fail to see mistakes because your brain knows what should be there, the brain knows what you meant and so that’s what it shows you and that’s what you see; little ghosts hiding in the shadows of the sentences…all sent there by your brain, showing you what you want to see rather than what is actually there.

Its a fantastical nightmare really, you cant stop the brain showing you the little ghosts, but you cant see past them to visualize what is really there.

It comes to something when your own brain works against you…I spend a lot of time writing about traitors…in Tudor historical fiction they are a pretty important part of every story! But having your own brain work against you when you really need it the most…most infuriating.

Which brings me to the second point of the day on editing; yesterday I gained an editor; a friend who has worked in the publication and editorial business and is willing at a much reduced fee to help me in my ambition to get into self-published print. She’s off to Peru tomorrow, but this will not stop us now that we are dedicated to the task! Thank goodness for email, it looks like I’m in for a busy time this month. I will be writing new stuff for Wattpad, but I have a lot of edited material to get to my new editor.

(The last sentence makes me feel all grown up…*smile*)

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