After finishing the latest round of edits on my manuscript Little did I know, I took a few days off to let it marinate. You see, I’ve come to realise that editing is like cooking a really great butter chicken. Not the kind you make from a jar, that takes half an hour and you’re done, but the kind you make from scratch, using a recipe borrowed from someone who learnt it from their parent or grandparent (or downloaded from the internet). The secret to a really great butter chicken, is to follow all the steps, of which there are many. Each step requires time for the flavours to develop, before you can move on to the next step, until after much effort and mess, you indulge in the most delicious butter chicken you’ve ever tasted.
Editing is much the same. There are many long and involved steps, but each one is essential. I edit and re-edit and re-edit again. It sounds boring and tedious, but every time I edit, I know that my manuscript improves.
If my manuscript ever turns out to be as good as my husband’s butter chicken, I will be one happy writer.
So after a week and a half of letting it rest, I decided to listen to my manuscript. A quick search led me to a selection of voices. I chose Karen. Karen allegedly speaks in an Australian English accent.
Well, if that’s an Australian accent, we’re all robots.
The voice made me feel dubious, but while the voice is not ideal, I’ve discovered that the process is thoroughly enjoyable. I select one chapter at a time, sit back with a cup of tea, my headphones in and I listen.
Hearing my story is an entirely different experience from reading it. It’s relaxing. I can hear the occasional typo and most importantly, I can hear where the dialogue isn’t quite right.
The best part of all though, is where Karen reads out slang or profanities. It’s about the only time the Australian accent is genuine. It’s so right in fact, I’ve selected some sections of text more than once, just to hear that Aussie twang. Words like bloody and Jesus, and gonna. She says them with real gusto, just like a pro.
But like anything in life and writing, there are ups and downs. Listening to my story is slow going and time is in short supply.
My working week is hectic. I wake at 6am (okay, lots of people have it worse than me), get the kids ready for school then dash off before they do. I punch out my hours at work (which I love – except for the rushing) and race home in time to supervise dinner and cook homework (or the other way around, I’m so busy I’m not sure which), before taking kids to sport and racing them home again to eat, shower, read and finally sleep.
Then, as often as I can after the kids are in bed, I sit at the desk and focus on my manuscript. I’ve considered the option of speeding up the voice, but I’m not sure I could cope with a hybrid of robotic Karen meets the chipmunks, so I keep the steady pace.
And then yesterday I woke up with a cold. It hit me like a kangaroo on a country road.
This morning, I was so tired, I slept through my alarm, then skipped breakfast just to get ready on time, dashed to the train station and upon arrival, realised I’d left my travel card and phone at home. So I turned around and raced back home, collected what I’d forgotten, then drove back to the station. I was exhausted before I even arrived at work and I blame it on the cold. The congestion is interfering with my brain function.
But I survived.
As I write this, it’s 9.25pm on Friday evening. I’m tired, my nose is red and I don’t have the wherewithall or energy to edit, but at least I can listen and I’m grateful for this strange voice reading to me, because even though it is slow, it is still progress.