Since I already have a post entitled "Two Things," I deemed it necessary to call this one "Two More Things" just for clarity's sake.
First, one of my pet peeves is when authors do not take enough care with simple things like spelling and basic grammar rules. I'm not talking about in an email between one friend to another or in a dashed-off birthday card or in your diary of secrets or in your grocery lists. I'm talking about anything uploaded to the web. A book excerpt, an article, a blog, a complaint letter, an e-book or whatever is put up for general consumption by the public.
Note my deliberate use of the word "authors." I don't hold every Tom, Dick or Harry to this ideal. But authors? Most definitely YES. We are the standard-bearers of the (English) language, using our skills to accurately communicate our thoughts into words on paper (or computer) that are then received by our educated readers just as we expect them to be.
And I'm not talking about a stray error or two within such internet publications. We are all human. We have all had the unfortunate incident of finding ourselves in a position to explain an incomprehensible error. Which we find unexplainable and would never have committed knowingly. But by some strange "brain blip," we did. Although when I find one within my uploads, I hurry to change it immediately. So far, I've changed mine before any reader comments made me aware of them. Which is my preference.
But when I read things that have multiple spelling errors coupled with multiple grammatical errors, I cringe in embarrassment for both its creator and myself, as an Indie-published author. I'm holding myself to a higher standard of excellence and professionalism, so no barbs can be pointed directly at me alleging any level of substandard work in my e-books.
For all my individual attempts at professional excellence, I really hate to be generically lumped into any grouping that disparages me and my work. Those overall remarks made about the low quality of e-books being self-published stab at my soul. I am trying so hard to elevate that perception with each and every e-publication of mine, first to meet my own benchmark, but second also to overcome the negative stereotypes.
I love words. I love reading. I love creating both nonfiction and fiction. I love my freelance copyediting work. That was my first dream-come-true. I love Indie-publishing my e-books. That was my second dream-come-true. [BTW, while "dream-come-true" may not appear in Web11, I'm creating this multiple-word noun based on CMS 7.90.]
So when I see cluttered and clouded communication--caused by simple words being mutilated by misspelling and basic homophones any third-grade student has been taught (there, they're, their for one example and two, too, to for a second) being misused by an adult author--I wonder about the quality of education in America, where the minimum requirements should be fairly high. As a communicator, as an author, as a copy editor, as a bibliophile, as a lover of words, I find that so very sad.
Plus, when a book containing those errors lands in the hands of youngsters with no formal training or at least not adequate schooling, they are then being mistaught by the very use of these mangled words and incorrect grammar. We are just passing on these bad English lessons to yet another generation.
Parents want better things for their children. As authors, we should remember we are surrogate parents to an unseen group of readers who are surrogate children and influenced by our writing to some degree. We have a great responsibility to them. I take mine seriously.
Second, on a happier note, I want to say a great big I AM PROUD OF YOU! to all the 2011 NaNoWriMo participants. I've blogged about this before--probably one of the most repeated dreams is to write a book. I would posit that almost every single person has had the thought "I could do that" and maybe fifty percent of them have spoken that wish out loud. Yet, again, my best guesstimate here, I would theorize that maybe two percent do any actual writing. I'm even broadening the catch of my proverbial net by counting simply writing down a title that's been floating in your head for decades. Or a paragraph of notes, ideas. Or an actual outline of your plot. Just one sentence, one page, one list of bullet points--to me that makes you a newbie wannabe author.
BUT, to finish your creation makes you truly an author in earnest. Whether published or not, by whoever's definitions. And we all have been privy to myriad ones. There is the RWA's definition of "published" which discounted my CP's short stories found in anthologies. There is of course the snobbery abounding as to whether an Indie-published author (like me) is truly published. To those snobs, the only definition of "published" is to go the traditional publishing route. Which we all must agree is "published." I just happen to think it is not the ONLY way to be "published." As is my right as a U.S. citizen.
Nevertheless, to complete my thought from the above paragraph, I maintain you are a "published" novelist simply by putting words to paper regarding one story and writing until The End. You have finished! What is procrastination but simply NOT finishing? So you are to be complimented. Of course, there are other forms of publication--short stories, articles, blogs, poems, flash fiction, novellas, etc., etc.
Plus the Copyright Office agrees with me about the mere writing down of your creation makes you the author and the document deemed published at its inception, whether a copyright application is formally filed with its office or not. Granted, from my layman's understanding, you cannot use this general pronouncement in a court of law to fight someone who may have infringed your copyright. For litigation, you do need written approval of your copyright application considered by the Library of Congress, Copyright Office.
Still, I hear you may be eligible for a minimal fine to be collected from an infringer even without a copyright on file with the government. Check with your Patent & Trademark attorney or Entertainment lawyer or online for more information. Links follow: http://www.uspto.gov/ and http://www.copyright.gov/. Boy, am I off target here.
Back to my main thoughts on this second topic. I'm equally as proud of the NaNo-ers whose WC stands at 100 as I am of those with 60,000 and beyond already. I'm equally as proud of the NaNo-ers who signed up and wrote one day as I am of those who have written on each of the twenty-one days in November so far. I'm equally as proud of the NaNo-ers who decided to write in November and fell below that magical 50K number as I am of those who make and/or exceed the winner status.
For any action, any step, any decision, any thought that leads you to your dream, you are to be congratulated. For the dreamers who take physical movement toward those ethereal hopes are rare in this world. Probably less than one percent of all humankind. Again, just numbers I've grabbed off the top of my head.
But you see that same one-digit percentage re the world's finances--three percent have the bulk while the remaining ninety-seven percent live in want. Same with goal-setting. I've heard that the three percent who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them than the other ninety-seven percent who didn't and consequently never reached their desired destination. So, it is not far-fetched for me to make such related claims.
Just my opinions here. But concerning two very important topics that are directly linked to my creed for living.
Write on, fellow 2011 NaNoWriMo participants! I wish you well. #nanowrimo