Digital Audio Recording Device + Editing=??????

It’s the end of the week and I’m still editing chapter two of The Healing Heart. I should have been finished by now, but life has caused me to spend less than three hours a day editing and has slowed me down. Oh well, when you have a family of 7 (plus 2 dogs) and responsibilities that are more pressing than writing, it can’t be helped.

The week started off with typing up chapter two from my handwritten manuscript. (Yes, to all who haven’t read my last few blogs, I decided to go ‘old school’ and hand write my MS without using my laptop.  I had my reasons and I’m glad I did). I followed my editing process outline and moved quickly. Then came the emergency trip to the dentist. And my daughter’s volunteer work at the library. Coincidentally, the library is where I had the chance to sit in one spot for a great about of time and actually get some work in. Then came the trips in and out off the house for various reasons which brings us to today……On my plate, a trip to have blood drawn and the dreaded eye doctor for two of my kids, an appointment I’m seriously dreading. Every time we go, we end up waiting an hour just to be seen. Sigh. It’s gonna be a long day.

So what does this have to do with a Digital Audio Recording Device?

An article I read on self-editing suggested, as we all have learned, reading your MS out loud is a good way to hear what you’ve written and helps find mistakes that need to be corrected. I’ve tried that before, but it never fails I rarely get through the whole thing without having to stop for some reason. The article also suggested recording yourself reading out loud. Here lately, I seem to be recording everything I can. I recorded my Writer’s Workshop class I took back in February with author Valarie Clark. And I recorded the GRW meeting with guest speaker Suzanne Brockmann in April. Why not record myself?

I admit, the thought made me nervous. After all, have you ever listened to yourself after leaving a voice mail and thought, ‘Uh, I sound awful?’. God knows I have. But I sucked it up, realized nobody was going to hear it but me and hit the record button…and laughed when I pressed play. I can read aloud just fine, no problems there. But listening to myself say a curse word??? ROTFL! Some people should not curse and I swear I’m one of them! Thank good my MS has very little profanity. Reading the parts that showed the h/h impressions of sexual attraction to one another was even worse. *shakes head* I can only imagine what it will sound like when I get to the chapter with the love scene. *grimaces* My hats off to the voice actors who make a living bringing characters to life in audio books! They deserve every penny!

All jokes and embarrassment aside, I found the technique has actually worked. Even though I haven’t been able to sit down at my laptop and make the actual changes as I listen to my MS, I have been able to make mental note of what needs to be changed. How? By taking my MP3 player (what I used to record) with me everywhere I’ve gone, and listened. I made mental notes of where I stumbled over a phrase because the wording didn’t flow. I was able to notice repeated words a lot faster than if I had been staring at the screen all day. I noticed areas that could use a little more description or a little more emotion because something sounded like it had been left out.

Being forced to LISTEN to what I’ve written instead of READING it for the hundredth time made a huge difference!

Everyone who’s edited knows it can be hard to have spent all that time with the characters in your head, translate your thoughts into words on screen, and then read it back WITHOUT your mind automatically filling in the blank because you know exactly what you intended to say. No matter how many times we read and re-read our work, it’s not until a critique partner reads it and leaves comments that say, “uh, what does this mean?” that you realize all this time it sounded right to you. If you critique partner had to ask, what about future readers????

What a difference a pair of fresh eyes can make! And I don’t mean putting in a fresh pair of contacts, because I did that this week too!

Using your EARS forces you to LISTEN to what’s coming next and not SEE it. You’ll be surprised to note where your brain thinks the scene is going to go vs. where it actually does. It made a huge difference in my editing this week.

So, as I prepare to wake up the kids so they can get ready for their appointments, I plan to make another recording so I can take it with me. During my dreaded hours at the eye doctor I will be listening and making notes so when I get home, I will be able to jump right into editing and get this darn chapter finished! (Oh great, I sound even worse saying darn!)

Editing by way of a digital audio recorder may not be your style, but give it a try at least once. You may be pleased with the results.

My Straight Jacket is Purple…How About Yours?

***This blog was originally published  12/2011, and was my most read blog on my old blog site. I decide to dust it of, refresh it a bit and share again. After all, I’m sure all authors can relate! :)***
I know, it’s a crazy statement, but as an author we all have an element of crazy in us somewhere. How can we not? We have to balance our lives, family, and day to day responsibilities with the art of storytelling. We create lives, personalities, likes and dislikes. It’s like giving birth without the added weight gain and late night bottle feedings.
Or is it?
If they all came like this, I’d want one!
If we don’t watch it, we drink coffee, eat snacks, and are glued to our computer screens for hours on end. Thus the weight gain. Late night bottle feedings come in the form of waking up in the wee hours of the night, turning on the bedside light or computer to jot down notes or write a scene that’s been plaguing us all day.
How do we stay sane? Where do these fictional people come from? Why are we not wearing straight jackets?????
My best guess is because we’ve learned to blend in with the rest of society. Thankfully people are intrigued by our stories and want to be entertained. Thus the reason why the straight jackets stay tucked in the corner and the psychiatrist keeps the crazy pills at bay.
But, all jokes aside, it is my opinion that writing is the truest form of self-expression, of healing, and finding a way to cope with whatever ails you. Whether you write in a diary, a memoir, take the experiences of your life, or pull from those around you. No matter what avenue you decide to take, writing can help you make it through.
How well you write is another story.
I love to create the characters in my stories. As an only child I spent a lot of time playing with my baby dolls, stuffed animals, and Barbies’. Each had a name and a voice of its own. I spent hour after hour making up stories and creating adventures to entertain myself. Each story had a Happily Ever After. From time to time I would get the tape recorder (remember that ancient form of electronics?) and make cassette tapes of these little adventures to share with my parents. They of course thought they were funny. Little did I know that form of storytelling would eventually lead to me putting stories down on paper.
I still use a recorder – digital that is – and the stories are the ones from my books. No dolls allowed; I leave that to my daughter. Now the stories are not about princess riding horses and marrying the prince. Now it’s stories dealing with real life experiences. Not all are my own, but they are real, they do happen, and there is heartbreak and pain. But through it all there is happiness and love.
As I create the heroines in my stories, I’ve come to realize something. In each character – as different as they are – there is an element of me. The woman I once was, the woman I am, the woman I secretly wish I could be, and the woman I aspire to become. Multiple Personality Disorder at its best. By telling these women’s stories I’ve found a way to work through the pain in my past and find happiness in my family and the ones I hold dear.
Along the way I’ve made friends I never would have known, and gained knowledge I never would have attained. In short, I’ve not only learned how to become a better writer, I’ve learned more about me. Writing has allowed me to make a mark of my own outside of being a wife and a mother. After thirty-eight years I have finally discovered something I love, something I’m good at, and something that unless I actually lose my mind, no one can ever take away from me.
There’s not a morning I don’t get up with an idea in my head and am anxious to get down on paper. Seeing my first story, A Heart Not Easily Broken, become a published Bestselling novel on Amazon has been a mind  blowing experience. There are days when I pull up  Amazon and look at my name and cover on the screen and go, ‘Wow, did I really write that?” What’s even more mind blowing is knowing that I am on the eve of the publication of my second novel…
If someone  told me three years ago that this would happen, I’d probably laugh and say, ‘yeah, right.’ But it just goes to show that following your dreams and not being afraid to wear that straight jacket can pay off……
As long as you write a book good enough for the ‘doctors’ to read. What can they do if they’re distracted? 🙂
Can’t believe I found purple shoes to match! LOL!
To all of you who are on various stages of your writing path, I wish you the best journey. Write your heart, write what you feel, let those characters out and onto paper. Just do me a favor, watch your back. If you don’t tell the story right, the men with those special white coats just might change their mind and take you for a ride!
By the way, my straight jacket also has butterflies!
Until Next Time, Write On!
MJ