It’s been two months since I laid eyes on our third novel, Darkness, Set us Free. A lot has happened in those two months. Our lockdown ended. I returned to work. I started and finished editing The Price of Pandemonium.
But this week, I opened Darkness, Set us Free with a fresh set of eyes. Truthfully, I’m old school and printed out all 260 pages. Armed with a highlighter in hand, I proceeded to read.
The first step was to read it from start to finish for the first time (hard to believe I hadn’t read my own novel yet!). Get a feel for the book again. I thought once I started reading, all the intricacies of the plot and our writing would come flooding back.
But, strangely, it was like I was reading someone else’s book. The book pulled me along for a wild emotional ride, and I was hooked. I hadn’t forgotten the overall story arc, but the exact words on the page were unfamiliar.
Did I write this? Did Sarah write this?
The first read-through felt like I was seeing my book as a reader instead of the author. And now, I understand the benefit of letting a first draft sit. Rest. Breathe. I wasn’t caught up in the intricacies of the plot anymore. I couldn’t remember the pesky paragraphs I struggled to write. Instead, I was at the will of the author, experiencing the book like a reader would.
If any of you are struggling to edit your own work, I’d recommend letting your manuscript rest. Tuck it away in a drawer and let the familiar words turn unfamiliar. Work on another project for a while so you can experience your own book with a fresh perspective.
Now that I’ve read through Darkness, Set us Free, I’m ready to dig into the editing with eager typing fingers. And a whole bunch of notes. Wish me luck.
I am about to start writing more grant proposals, again. And, unsurprisingly, it doesn’t fill me with joy. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing. In all its forms. Technical and creative.
But grant writing (and thesis or research paper writing) is always a difficult time for me as it involves constant switching between academic writing all day, and creative writing in the evenings.
Although there are similarities—clear communication, good structure, concise paragraphs, and nice flow—there are differences too. There is a certain tone, style and voice to scientific writing that one must find to be successful. But the question is, should there be?
“Would you rather read writing that’s clear and functional but also fun to read, or writing that’s clear and functional, but nothing more?” – Heard, S.B. 2016.
Technical scientific writing is notoriously stiff, and full of the passive voice. Creative titles, sentences and paragraphs are rare. But when I read a journal article with a witty title, or a really great paragraph that explains research like a gripping narrative, it brings a smile to my face. And makes me wonder if there should be more creative flare in scientific papers.
Of course, academic writing should be professional and formal, but why can’t it also be creative?
Heard, S. B. 2016a. The scientist’s guide to writing: how to write more easily and effectively throughout your scientific career. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, USA