My Desk

It’s never taken me so long to send an email before. 

I’m not referring to writing the message; its composition came easily enough. The actual act of pressing ‘send’ seemed impossible. My cursor hovered over the paper airplane icon; pausing I sat back and scanned the document once more. I stood up and paced around the room.

The momentous moment had arrived and my first manuscript was just a click away from the publisher. I was savouring the experience while being equally terrified of the reality. Many bloggers have used the analogy of giving birth with reference to writing a book; I can identify with this emotion to a certain extent…sending away my first book to an outsider felt like I was releasing my baby into the wider world. With another few tours of the room, I returned to my seat and pressed the button. No turning back!

After weeks of intense editing on my anthology of short stories my head seemed to burn with heat and a flu-like fever of concentration reverberated around my mind whilst the rest of my body struggled against the cold. A day or two of complete relaxation was in order to restore the equilibrium.

The editing process had been unexpectedly and contradictorily tougher and easier than anticipated. 

Hour after hour of close computer and document work took its toll on my eyes and head resulting in migraine-style headaches.

However, several useful editing tools were a fantastic help in bringing my manuscript to completion.

Grammarly, a proof-reading program recommended by Jacqui Murray at Worddreams (thank you, Jacqui!), was a most invaluable editing aid. After initially reading through each story a few times, amending the plot etc where needed, correcting typos and punctuation I then used Grammarly to check for any missed errors. Surprisingly it picked up quite a few; these included spacing gaps between words, spellings and punctuation. I did have to be cautious with my changes though as the spellings were corrected to American style and it had a predilection for commas which I disagree with – see what my editor says! 

Natural Reader  proved another excellent editing tool. Once again Jacqui recommended this on her blog and I was initially sceptical but decided to trust her positive experience with it. Despite the mechanical unemotional aura to the voice (although there are various choices) it made a huge impact having each story read aloud to me. Although I’d been reading some out to myself, listening actively to each word through Natural Reader allowed me to pick up on silly mistakes including one where I had put the wrong name for a situation in a story. Yikes!

As well as a dictionary by one’s side (or the website permanently on display) it is essential for writers to consider Thesaurus as one’s best friend. My original paperback copy from childhood is gradually falling apart so I now use its services online, consulting, searching for words to improve and sharpen my writing and this was even truer during these last editing weeks. 

Finally, never underestimate the value and effectiveness of good old-fashion pen and paper – or in my case pencils! With a few sharpened pencils in my arsenal, I printed out the stories when I thought they were ready and took them downstairs where I’d commandeered the dining room table (my desk by this time was overflowing with papers!). Here the final editing took place and with the change of room, my creative spirit was rejuvenated and the final changes were made. Some of these were minor, a word or two; in other cases, a whole paragraph was rewritten and paragraph spacing was slightly adjusted in the more complex ones. Furthermore, I was inspired to change the title of two stories. 

The stories for my anthology were now ready to be sent away to my editor; however, there were several more important elements to the book to complete before the full manuscript was whole. In my next post, I will describe how I tackled the all-important blurb, tag-line and about the author page. 

Thank you very much for following my exciting journey to publication of this anthology of short stories.The book is due out beginning December and I will reveal the book title and cover soon.

“I love short stories because I believe they are the way we live. They are what our friends tell us, in their pain and joy, their passion and rage, their yearning and their cry against injustice.” Andre Dubus


168 thoughts on “FRAZZLED!

    1. Bless you all!! Thank you so much – lovely to hear from you and your heartfelt congratulations mean a lot to me. I often think of you and the peace of Cley…sometimes feel like just getting in the car and heading up for a break!😀❤️

  1. Just a quick note for you, as a fellow short story writer. If you’ve got a group of short stories all written by the same author, the correct name for it is a collection, not an anthology. Anthologies are written by multiple authors. Not really a big deal, but I’d hate to see a picky reviewer slam you for it. We work hard enough for reviews without getting slammed for a technicality. And major congrats for nursing this thing all the way through to publishing. 🙂

    1. Cathleen, first of all, many thanks for your congratulations…it does indeed feel like I’ve been nursing my book to completion. I don’t think I’ll believe it’s real until I see it!😀

      I really appreciate your comment and concern re. anthology. I started by saying collection but then many others referred to the book as an anthology and I liked this. Since reading your comment I’ve been looking at various sources, other poem and short story collections. As regards the latter, the term seems to be used for a collection of various works by either one author or various writers. My stalwart OED explains that an anthology is a collection of poems or other pieces of writing or music (must admit I’ve never considered the latter!). Taking your worries to heart I only refer to anthology once in the book and will probably change that to collection but otherwise probably consider to use the words interchangeably.

      BTW for those who are interested the word is of Greek origin anthos which means flower (ie flowers of verse) and logia which means collection.

      Many thanks again, Cathleen and thank you for raising this interesting point.

  2. Pingback: The Enigmatic Blurb – Annika Perry's Writing Blog

  3. I felt the energy while reading this post, Annika, and I love your photo, too. I’m so happy you reached the finish line, and can’t wait to see the final product. Congrats and wishing you all the best, my friend. Whatever you do, don’t forget to breathe. 🙂 Sending hugs ❤❤❤

    1. Hehe! 😀😀 How did you know I’m forgetting to breathe!? 😀 Speaking from experience, Lauren? I have lots of energy,which seems to be depleted every evening but luckily renewed most mornings. Very exciting! Thank you so much for your lovely wishes and comment. So happy you’re looking forward to my book. Hugs winging their way back to you. Xx❤️

  4. Ooooh this is all so exciting, Annika! Congrats! And if writing a book is a part of the childbearing process then it’s certainly not an easy pregnancy from my experience 😉 Thank goodness for the support of friends and other online writers!

    1. Absolutely, Christy! 😀 Without the support of friends here on WP I wouldn’t even have contemplated this anthology and know I wouldn’t have got this far to publishing my first my book! Haha! I reckon my actual pregnancy was easier…and far less stressful. Not sure about the birth though! 😀 Many thanks for your lovely comment, Christy ❤️

  5. Beautifully you described the emotions which go hand in hand with writing and editing. I can so relate to differences between American and British English including punctuation. The first time I encountered a “run on” sentence (two complete sentences separated only by a comma), I told the person asking me to read aloud that it was incorrect and could not be done in American English. Either a semicolon or two separate sentences or the insertion of a conjunction such as “and.” I have not tried either of the programs mentioned by Jacqui but will have to give them a try. I am proud of you, Annika, for sticking with the process of editing. These are exciting times for you. Now you need to switch gears and go for a long walk or take that trip where you have never gone before so that you leave behind the writing and editing spaces. As a Fulbright teacher in Germany, I was assigned several classes of English and discovered that I would be teaching British English! This was an enjoyable challenge and steep learning curve with some of the vocabulary and grammar. Now I shall be on pins and needles until you let us know what the publisher thinks. Savor the next few days and weeks as you await the news. I enjoyed your post very much.

    1. Mary Ann, I don’t envy you having to learn British English to then teach it!! That must have been tricky – I’m finding with blogging that I’m becoming confused what is American or English standard. The spelling is easier but I hadn’t realised the differences in grammar. I hope you find the editing suggestions of help, Jacqui also uses Autocrit but I haven’t tried that one out. My anthology is with a small independent publisher is it is now waiting to be edited, formatted and also the final approval of the cover design. Exciting, hectic days…but I am indeed following your advice and took a couple of days off for time with the family! Bliss! 😀❤️

      1. It is important to take time to rest after intense bursts of work. I used to laugh at myself and used my British English in US classes. I frequently asked my students what they might think if someone told them to put the suitcases in the boot. Puzzled, I think most would determine this to be an impossible feat while they searched for large boots in closets and very small suitcases. I took it all with a grain of salt. Much easier to have a positive outlook in life. Enjoy your Sunday and week ahead.

        1. Haha! 😀 I had to read that a few times as I didn’t realise what was the problem with suitcases in the boot! I had a quite a few confused moments in my visits to the States…luckily most were able to laugh about it.

          1. Well, there is much humor even in the English language. On summer our son attended a local soccer(football) camp run by some British fellows. I couldn’t find our son at the end of practice and asked one of the British players who informed me our son was on the pitch. That meant baseball to me and pitching the ball. I had a confused look and then he gestured toward the playing field or field or as I now know it to be, the “pitch.” Hahaha. Life’s lighter moments. So you finally got the humor about suitcases in the boot. We wear boots on our feet, and they are not large enough to store suitcases inside of. Do you recall the funny moments in the US?

  6. Such wonderful news, Annika! And I can completely relate to those migraine style headaches and strained eyes – I felt much the same after weeks of working endless hours in front of the computer to finish my master thesis. I can remember that time only to well! And altough I didn’t have to press send but had to deliver it in person it felt very similar to – I waited until the last possible day, the last hour actually 😉
    I love the look of your desk – it’s shockingly alike to mine with papers and things strewn all over it 😂 But I lacks that beautiful plume feather you have! Do you actually write with it or is it more for decoration? And finally I love the pic of your book cupboard – I also have lots of books by Jamie Oliver 😄
    Have a beautiful weekend my dear friend – you’ve earned it and more! Hugs!xxx

    1. Sarah, the plume feather was a present from my son as he knew how much I love writing…it’s so lovely and soft. I do occasionally use it but mostly it’s for display. I meant to say that the photo of the cookbooks with the quote over it is from my local book cafe…I sat opposite this cranny of cookbooks and just had to take a photo! (I wish the books were mine!!)
      Haha! So you also need a deadline?! I was the same with my university thesis – I had over one and a half years but only in the last six months started to work on them and then last two I was on the computer non-stop. What was your thesis about? Computer work is hard on the eyes and head…I turn the light down as much as possible on the mac so that helps a bit…I hope the headaches are over now? Hugs, my friend! ❤️

      1. Annika, your plume feather was a very thoughtful gift from your son – it´s obvious that he loves you very, very much and that he is very perceptive!

        It does seem that I need deadlines in order to really get started 😉 I wish I didn´t though! LOL! So glad we have that in common too! 😀

        Wish you a very lovely weekend, my friend! Love&hugs! xoxo ❤

  7. I love your desk photo also, Annika! It is so much hard work, isn’t it? I have to spend Thanksgiving holiday going over a printed proof of mine, this after two readings of it this summer. Congrats to you and hang in there, the light is truly at the end of the tunnel as they say 😀

    1. Ahh…thank you for your last sentence, Lana…I was beginning to wonder about the light! Congratulations on your latest book and I hope it goes well with your final proofreading…but do hope you have a chance to enjoy Thanksgiving as well! Happy Holiday and Reading!!😀❤️

    1. Thank you very much, Gill…it still feels unreal to me and reckon I need to hold that book in my hand to bring it home to me!! Many thanks for your lovely comment and wish you a great weekend! 😀

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