I think that it’s in the nature of writers to be insecure.
Before we even put words on paper, we worry if it’s the right idea to pursue. During the writing process, we argue back and forth in our heads as to whether we’re wasting our time on this project. And then we wait on pins and needles when it comes time for reviews–from professionals as well as from our friends.
Why are we that way? Because we understand that there may be a disconnect between how we see the book working and how others see it. And reviews can make or break the project.
I’m no exception. I have two friends doing a last-minute read on my latest endeavor, Chosen. I think it’s one of the best of 19 books I’ve written, but then I’m just the author. What do I know? A question arose as to what kind of language should be used in a historical/biblical novel. One friend, who is a self-admitted purist in the genre, feels that there is a certain expectation for characters to speak as a reader would expect in that time period, meaning more formally.
My grand experiment is to use modern language in the book, for two reasons. First, we really don’t know how people spoke back then. Even the King James Bible, with its “thees” and “thous” was using the street language of England centuries ago to try and reach the common man. And that’s my second reason. I’m hoping that some readers, especially young people, will find my use of language more approachable, and it turn can identify better with the book and the characters.
After dealing with my own paranoia, and several comments back and forth between me and the reader, we agreed that the final decision on language was mine and mine alone. I suggested a compromise; my reader told me no; that whatever I did, be consistent.
And I heard my own words coming out of her mouth. “If you’re going to make a mistake,” I tell my students, “at least be consistent.” The value of that is that people pay more attention to inconsistencies that they do mistakes that are consistent. Of course, I could be wrong about that too….
I’m at the proof stages of my paperback version of Chosen. I’m still sticking to the Dec. 1 launch date. But I am already thinking of things I’d like to fix. One of the pluses of the print-on-demand approach to publishing–as well as e-books–is that a publication is not set in stone. There’s been more than once that a reader has pointed out a typo in one of my books, and I have gone back and fixed it…or them.
The bottom line is that mistakes happen. Even in traditional publishing that’s the case. But an author has to make final decisions and then stick to his or her guns.