Quoth the Pilcrow….

Edgar_Allan_Poe_by_Samuel_S_Osgood,_1845Every Writer who commits digits to the keyboard of Indie Author-hood soon identifies with the protagonist of Poe’s famous poem.* Will that story that came to perch upon your shoulder, tap-tapping on your pallid pate, ever retire to a quiet corner of the bookcase?

Farm-Fresh_pilcrowNowhere in this blog site have I claimed to have written a perfectly edited book; on the contrary, in The Joys of Editing I stated, “These strategies helped locate most (but not all) of the things that needed fixing in Irish Firebrands.” I’m now engaged in producing an audible version for the visually impaired (more on this, soon!), and offhand, I can recall finding two spell-checker glitches and two terminal-punctuation irregularities that eluded fifteen months of editing and revision. Inevitably, more will turn up.

Dore_RavenI employed conventions common to current Hiberno-English usage, which involves many archaic words, and ungrammatical elements; so some readers may find it hard to reconcile the grammar and style with their training. I also used non-standard punctuation, as a way to portray the mental status of two characters who suffer from psychological disorders. Some readers may consider this usage to be over-the-top; it was a challenge for me to break the habit of correct punctuation, to which I was accustomed from my background in clinical, academic, and technical reading and writing.

Farm-Fresh_pilcrowIrish Firebrands is written in the third person, with only two point-of-view characters, which I’m confident that I maintained consistently. After more than 50 years of reading experience, it seems to me that the quantity and quality of narrator omniscience are more a matter of interpretation than of strict technical accuracy, and I believe I achieved balance in the limited omniscience exhibited by the anonymous narrator, in the summary and expository passages.

George_Hazelton's_The_Raven_(Edgar_Allan_Poe)_1908Over a writing and editing time in excess of 4 years, the corpus of Irish journalism and other media, commercial, educational and government sources that I consulted grew far too large to document (but all websites were bookmarked). In addition, to augment my findings, I spent 2 weeks visiting Ireland, and I acquired a large personal library of research material (see the Bibliography, available via the Sample Chapters menu). Some may disagree with my portrayal of facts and historical events, but the controversial viewpoints expressed by my characters echo opinions publicly – and often vehemently – voiced by the Irish, themselves. Irish Firebrands is an interpretive work of fiction, but it has no factual errors.

Farm-Fresh_pilcrowJ. R. R. Tolkien never finished fiddling with The Lord of the Rings; indeed, its multitudinous reprints introduced errors that were never there to begin with, and the great man’s heirs are still revising them out of his magnum opus.

HN5791I’m an avid reader, and often during the last 7 or 8 years, I’ve been appalled by what passes for well-edited books from traditional publishers. Thus, I crusade to encourage confident self-editing by Indie Authors: after all, fewer mistakes in the manuscripts for which some Indies may be able to afford to hire editors, can only make those people’s jobs easier.

Statue of a raven at the Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site in Philadelphia, PA.

Click on the image to hear  The Raven, read by Fergus Ross Ferrier.
Recorded May 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. 90px-CC_some_rights_reserved.svgCc-by_new_white.svg24px-Cc-sa_white.svg

* While listening, I found out from whom I acquired my avid appreciation for alliteration.


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5 responses to “Quoth the Pilcrow….

  1. In my mind, it’s never finished. I just reach a point where it’s the best I can do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know what you mean about having to revise the way you’re used to writing. When I was a paralegal, I had to constantly use the parties’ (full) names instead of pronouns (he/she/him/her/his/hers). Furthermore, I had to use a lot of semi-colons and run-on sentences. And I’ve also seen far too many errors in others’ writing that make me cringe. (Especially people that consistently use an apostrophe S to make something a plural. OUCH!) But I don’t think you ever had anything to worry about. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose I have a decent grasp of writing fundamentals (in a Strunk & White sort of way). In my pre-novelist life, I’d written lots of stuffy academic papers that garnered perfect marks from professors, and after reading my Internet class discussion board posts, several of them had asked me, “Have you ever thought about going into journalism?” I never seriously considered it, although I’d had three lengthy op-ed articles that I’d thrown over newspaper transoms get published, plus one newspaper-commissioned freelance educational piece, and I had an entrenched habit of writing letters to editors, all of which got published.

      So, it was very interesting for me to discover that the way I was writing Irish Firebrands was naturally in Hiberno-English style.

      I’ve been a touch-typist for 48 years, although my speed isn’t that hot (only 37-45 WPM), which is probably due to my fingers being so short (normal women’s fingers are a whole fingertip joint longer than mine). But my accuracy suffers more, now, because of arthritis, so I still have to go on safari to hunt down typos.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I think you definitely found your calling. Or maybe your second calling. 🙂 As much as you love reading, I’m surprised you didn’t throw your hat into the novelist pool a long time ago.

        I have short finger syndrome, too, so I feel your pain. 😉 I learned touch typing, but because I missed some classes, I still need to peek on some of the top and bottom rows. Still, I can manage about 50 WPM on a good day or 30 on a bad day. My typos are usually ones that the computer won’t catch such as form instead of from. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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