I’ve reached another milestone on the road to self-publishing my book, “Crashing Through the Underbrush”.
While spending 10 days with my grand kids in Cottage Grove — their parents were in Virginia — I finished reading the manuscript, out loud, to myself, for the second time. Sometimes things sound different aloud than they do when read silently. I made edits I thought appropriate, then spent quite a few hours over several days printing a master copy on my elderly Hewlett Packard printer. I took that copy, about 300 pieces of paper, to Office Max and made six two-sided copies, which I then assembled in nice, but cheap, binders, each a different color, and sent or delivered them to five of the six people I had selected long ago to read the book and offer feedback. (The 6th I haven’t been able to get hold of yet. She’s retired, so maybe she’s on a long trip!) Earlier, I also had feedback from my daughter, Megan, whom I let read most of the book because she was designing the cover; and from Jan, my former wife, who was recovering at home from surgery for a couple of months and had lots of time to read. Her speciality is commas, and she’s always thought I used way too many! Both Megan and Jan provided useful feedback, much of which I accepted, but they haven’t had a chance to read the last couple of chapters I wrote, nor some of my final edits.
Two of the six readers are current or former newspaper editors who date to my days as a reporter and editor. Three more are current or former other types of editors, and the sixth is a retired school teacher and long-time member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a family support and education organization that helps families of people with psychiatric disabilities, and advocates for resources. I asked her specifically to review it from the point of view of a family member to ensure it’s accurate from that point of view, and doesn’t include anything too offensive to family members. (There was an op-ed piece in yesterday’s Register Guard — Tues., the 5th — by Terry Arnold, executive director of the Lane County NAMI chapter, about the importance of not overlooking mental health services in upcoming state budget deliberations).
I told my volunteer readers to “review it using whatever standards you wish to apply: spelling, grammar, content, flow, readability, excitement, accuracy of medical information, timing/ pace, clever use of metaphors, whatever.” I gave them all a deadline of December 1st, which gives them two months to make their red marks and get them back to me. Then it’s on to the next steps: more editing based on my readers’ suggestions, and getting an 85,000+ word file to a printer to produce actual books. Stay tuned!
P.S. — Today’s writing lesson: Anyone know the difference between a metaphor and a simile? A metaphor, according to the Random House Dictionary, is “a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.” “Crashing through the underbrush,” for example, is a metaphor for dealing with mental illness. A simile, on the other hand, is “a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in ‘she is like a rose.'” Now you know!