One of my most difficult things to find is patience. The effort to create something worthy of publication rarely comes with ease. It requires work. And I want to see the rewards of that work. I’ve read various authors who state that we must write, read, edit, re-read, edit and if things still don’t work, throw it away. Maybe for them – those skilled writers – that works. For me, someone still mired in the process of learning the craft, I need a few more rounds before I can be satisfied something is worthy of submitting or trashing.
Patience means reading my work aloud, and making corrections as I go along. It means when done; I read it aloud again. What is my goal of reading aloud? Being so close to the work I cease to be able to spot errors on the screen or paper. By voicing the words, I can hear their cadence. I will catch those extra words that don’t belong (most of the time), and I can see what works and what doesn’t just in the way the sounds mesh with one another.
Okay, I admit it. I get lazy about this last piece. I often skip the reading aloud. Invariably it comes back to bite me when I do. This is my lack of patience that I speak of. Having the patience to do all the steps improves my work considerably. Running spell check, running a necessary grammar check, and reading aloud are all essential steps. These little steps all tend to catch things I did not see when I went through the story the last time. Each one I find is one more item that an editor could have seen as a reason to reject the story. I want to eliminate every one of those reasons I can. I want the editor to judge the story for content not my ignorance of simple grammar rules.
I recently listened to a few stories written and read by Neil Gaiman. (Odd and the Frost Giants, The Graveyard Book and The Ocean at the End of the Lane) The way those stories flowed from beginning to end shows incredible patience. The action scenes are not rushed. The build-up toward the climax is methodical and well-paced. The transitions are smooth, and we reach the ending in just the right amount of time.
The old cliché “patience is a virtue,” applies double in writing. Rushing the story, rushing the climax, rushing the finishing process, all these can be fatal to the end product. Taking our time and going through every step in the process is the only way to reach the success we desire.