Starting Out – When Ten Plus Five Equals One

Until the spring of 2012, my writing portfolio (if I had one) was composed of short scientific papers, academic research, a myriad of reports and report card comments over 27 years of teaching, and the rare false start attempt at creative writing. To say this writing portfolio marked the work of an aspiring writer would require a vivid imagination. T he dream of publishing a book seemed farther away than ever until I read about self publishing. After investigating the idea of self publishing through an internet search, and some inquiries through the “contact us” invite of a number of self publishing services, I finally selected a publisher and a publishing package  that looked like the right fit to reach my goal.

Once I paid the required fee and completed the required documents I was off to the races, and the struggles began. My struggles had nothing to do with the publisher, they were all inherently my own. Moderate dyslexia would complicate the process as usual. A look back at some few items of written work that from my elementary, middle, and high school years, had me wondering how I was permitted to graduate. The content in everything I had written was complete, and ideas were abundant, but spelling and grammar in my work were an embarrassment. In university, my written work in the humanities tended toward mediocrity but the content always pulled me through.

By the time I reached graduate school, I’d had enough of mediocrity, and took to the habit of writing and rewriting papers as many times as necessary. I rehearsed and practiced writing answers to possible exam questions so I would waste as little time as possible thinking of spelling and sentence structure. It became a matter of survival. I began producing better written work with respect to spelling, syntax, and grammar, and the content and ideas were presented in a more beautiful frames. Ironically, the disabled learner is doubly handicapped; they must cope their learning disability in  daily life, and have to work much harder to get a descent result for their efforts. With this background information my readers can well imagine what lie ahead for this novice writer.

After five major reads and revisions, I finally had a manuscript completed to the point of submitting it for a first evaluation. In addition to the publisher, I imposed on several others to act as readers and provide feed back. One of the chosen few was a retired English teacher and high school principal, who kindly took his time to do some copy editing. The publisher and all the readers gave me feedback on the content, clarity, and logic in presentation. As usual, content, ideas, and research were all very strong, but there were many weaknesses reflected in there comments. There were problems with the sequence of topics and some content that did not seem to fit in the context of the manuscript. In addition, there were pronoun use errors, some agreement errors, some incorrect word choice errors, and many others small but significant flaws.

There was much work left to do. After ten months of hard work, and five drafts of the original manuscript, I was determined to finish what I started. I had the opportunity to review the feedback from the publisher with a consultant and developmental editor, and was advised of some services that were available to me at a reasonable cost. I’ll write about the debrief experience in about 48 hours after a short period of R and R. Until then……

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