becareful who you agree to edit their manuscript as a favour for…

i spent the majority of my morning at the gym – worked out for about 1.5 hrs. not bad. afterwards, i was starving for a light, chicken sandwich. and while in the past, i've condemned the likes of starbucks, i do have to admit that i love their low-fat, chicken breast bruschetta sandwich. i finished off with a chai tea latte (to try and make up for my mistake of choosing the green tea latte over the chai last time).

i brought with me, my current read, the jane austen's book club.

i'm only a third of the way in but am enjoying it so much. i definitely consider it a light read but the writing is intelligent and witty enough. and the characters do seem to capture my attention.

plus, i've been editing a manuscript for a friend of mine. and as she hopes to send it in to harlequin's historical series, i'm in much need of reading something not fluffy in THAT type of romance. i've never been a huge fan of harlequin and she knows it. but she was in desperate need of some one with a sharp eye to proof read her work as it's suppose to be flawless of grammar and spelling errors before sending it in. i made her seek the help of some one else to pick up on spelling errors (it's the weakest part for me when proof reading) and after it had been corrected of such errors, i would read through it for grammar (especially punctuation – she has none) as well as make sure the flow was correct (i.e. no confusion of content and who was saying what during a dialogue).

the work is definitely raw and needs extreme amount of refining. in fact, it is so raw that i'm almost confident that i'm missing a lot of errors. i'm not a professional proof-reader. but she knows my writing skills far surpasses her own. it's just that every other three lines makes me cringe.

when she gave it to me, i found that she didn't start a new paragraph/line when some one else speaks. so rather one line per person, as usually seen to indicate characters taking turns while talking to one another, it was all lumped one after another in one single paragraph.

before i even reached the end of the dialogue sequence, i was lost with whom was saying what.

my head is swimming even at the thought of how much work it needs on grammar alone.

she argued with me that this is how it is done in harlequin books. to be honest, not ever picking up a harlequin book, i couldn't come out and just say, "no, you are wrong." so i told her to go home and take a look at one of her books… she came back the next day to confirm that i was right.

as if i would be wrong on that count.

oh… for those that are wondering why on earth i was crazy enough to edit her manuscript… she also happens to be my manager. and though i have no fear in turning her down because she's not the type that would have held it against me, she's very persistent. her constant hinting and bringing up of the manuscript wore me down. besides, if i don't do this, she will not want to think of anything else. we have a job, after all, with projects galore on the horizon. if i can't get her head cleared and straightened out, it might mean more mayhem for me later on. or, my greatest fear – that our department isn't doing enough so why should it exist anyway? my career, at the moment, lies in her hands.

if she's not productive, i do not look so good.

anyway, is it a good manuscript? how is her writing, you might wonder? well, thank god it's historical and that she happened to have spent a majority of her time researching the era in which her story takes place. or perhaps she didn't do a good job researching and i just happen to suck in history (it was my weakest subject in school, next to math).

but the fact is… the historical part keeps it afloat. barely.

the rest of it… well… *rolls eyes*

it could pass for a early-teen type of romance read. god… remember sweet valley high? okay, maybe not THAT bad.

now let me just clarify myself. i'm not one to strike down people for loving harlequin (or similar trashy romance novels). one thing i have to admit, harlequin has created an astronomical business for themselves. they provide the right amount of escapism for those who are searching for that type of read.

but… they are NOT good books. just because they sell well does not mean that they are anywhere near the circle of good, contemporary literature. i've often had to clarify this because in the past, i've offended a lot of people who swear by harlequin, danielle steeles and even dan brown. these published authors are not good writers. the plot and/or character development is practically nil. that's not to say that i condone people for loving such reads.

i merely condone the behaviour of those that try to convince me that i will just LOVE such books.

my manager has done just that. she has tried many times to try and entice me into reading the books that she continuously reads. and it's hard… it's hard to sit there and code a web page while she is reading me passages that make me… well… *rolls eyes again*

i don't see myself as an eliteness. a few times a year, i will pick up some very light reads (some which i wish i hadn't – i.e. all of  nicholas sparks' books) to fit my mood of not wanting anything too serious nor heavy. but i think what i say about such fiction writing is pretty damn factual. there's no creativity at all and the issue that makes me want to bash my head against the concrete wall is that, my dear manager, for the past ten years, has tried time and time again to convince me that i am wrong.

i've even given up on arguing with her. it's become a moot point. i know she will never listen to me. which is fine. i just wish she would accept that i will never enjoy the novels she reads because they simply are just not my cup of tea.

i took her manuscript home one night and left it there. she was disappointed that i didn't bring it back but i felt i had to keep it away from both her and i, though especially her, because i could not endure another day at work, having her read passages in chapters i hadn't reached, laughing and pointing out how brilliant that part is and how i should listen to how funny that line is.

truth be told, even the funniest and most clever writing would not be as they should when you read it out of context. but i especially did not want to know what was about to happen if i'm to read it from beginning to end. at least the element of (predictable) surprise will fuel me to finish editing the manuscript. knowing what will happen will just make me lose what little drive i have.

btw, i have recently been chastised, not by my manager, but another harlequin-lover, that i am not well read.

no… i didn't retort back. i simply waited until she was not in earshot and laughed myself silly.

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9 thoughts on “becareful who you agree to edit their manuscript as a favour for…

  1. Well honey you got yourself in a heck of a pickle here. I am honestly not sure how I would react. I mean you have already told her it doesn't read as it should. That no explanation or any further assistance on your part, and try to move on from it. However, from what I have read I am assuming that it would not be that easy.
    On the other hand, when it comes to the type of things you read, you like what you like. I for one noticed that my choice of books have changed so much over the time. I really used to be a big romance novel reader… but.. well, there really isnt much there for me now. Funny thing though, I am writing a kind of modern day romance type novel myself.. And, I for one, have had to rewrite, start over and come at it from so many different angles.. and I am no where close to being done.
    Good Luck!!

  2. i have to admit, even if there's some very good romance novels out there from harlequin or the likes of harlequin, she has pretty much ruined any chance of me reading them.

  3. that's a tough situation.she shouldn't really have asked you todo such a huge task–esp when her writingis so poor. if it's her rough draft, forget it!it needs at least 2 revisions before she shouldeven show it to anyone. yikes!i would NOT ask a non-writing friend to editmy work. it is a major time commitment andis better served in a critique group.ask her to take a class or join a crit group inreal life. there are online ones, too.

  4. good advice! i thought of you a lot during this past week. because i know you are writing, as well. but you and her… so different from one another in the way you approached your books.oh cyn… you should have heard her for months and months… bringing up the topic of needing some one to edit her book… not wanting to pay money in getting an editor… hinting, hinting, hinting… i ignored her all those times simply because i wasn't interested.and then one day she just came in to work and said, "i'm going to get you to edit my book."i was annoyed. i mean, if i hadn't responded to her hinting why on earth would i go along because she demanded it. i would have preferred if she just asked me from the get go instead of going from hinting for a few months to just telling me what to do! i finally told her that she's got the wrong person. my experience in writing only surpasses that of university research paper, essays and corporate reports. i have no background in creative writing, past high school, that is. and, i'm also not a harlequin reader. so that genre is alien to me (okay, i've read a couple more as a dare/bet and hated what i had read).she did give it to another person to proof read but that person did a horrible job. all she did was check for spelling errors. this, btw, is the same person who chastised me for being poorly read – she's also one that only reads harlequin romances.hell.. what do i know. maybe i AM poorly read. i admit i've only touched the surface of classics. lol!well… she ware me down and i got myself into this mess.i suppose the only thing i can do is just continue with it. but… the responsibility, i'll explain, is not on my shoulders. i like your suggestions about a critique group and a writer's class. i'll suggest to her that my editing is very raw and that if she wants critique on true, fictional writing form and content critique, she had better do either of what you mentioned.i think after reading your comment, that's what's really bothering me… the editing part is a bitch but it's the weight of responsibility. i do not want to be a part of why she isn't going to get accepted.her plot/idea of the novel is actually not bad from what i understand what historical romances to be about but without proper writing technique, they will not go beyond the prologue.

  5. How strange. Stranger even to hear what you said in your later comments, that she hinted and hinted, and when that didn't do the trick, she just forced it on you. If she thinks you're not smart enough to hear (and ignore) the hinting, why does she think you're smart enough to edit her book?I'd jump at any chance to proofread a friend's book for grammar and spelling, but anything beyond that (actually even the grammar… see my recent post about how I've no hope of ever really teaching esl?) would be beyond my comfort zone. And really, it's easy to say "this is grammatically incorrect," because it's just a fact, but it's much harder to say "your writing style, well… it just sucks." As for your co-worker telling you you're unread – that's horrible. I would never, ever say that to anyone! Except G, since that's our running joke. It's beyond rude, if you ask me.

  6. i'd jump at a chance to proof read a book if it was YOUR book. or cyn's (above)… or a close friend. better that it be some one i don't work with, though. :)as for my rude co-worker, it's okay… i think she's swallowing her words now. she's learned since, of the books i've read and am meaning to read and she realizes her error in judgment.i think at the time she said what she said, she was looking to get a dig in me because she's somewhat insecure, and we were amongst my manager and another manager. i notice she likes to insult me in front of them (not just me, she use to do that with michelle, too). i just step aside (or walk away) usually, because it's not worth my time. the way i see it, if she were a dog, she'd be pissing all over their feet to try and gain 'her territory.' when i see it that way, it's actually pretty funny!

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