Sunday, October 1, 2017

Should I Edit My Manuscript Electronically Or On Paper?

I have been trying to make some revisions and tidy up my collection of poems, Beyond These Dark Lands are Edges of Joy, so they would be ready for publication. I have been going back and forth between the computer and paper versions of my manuscript trying to determine the better method of editing my poems.

I am kind of a visual person so the way things look affects my approach to it. When I see the pages laid out it gives me a feel for the overall presentation and spirit of the book.  On the other hand, I want to create a serious and professional piece of literature, so I must use the computer.

I have found that looking at the paper version gives me a sense of spirit or soul of the poems and not just grammar or sentence structure.

Printed pages make it easy to lay the poems out on the table and see them as a collection rather than as single pieces on the monitor screen.  I can use different strategies like spreading them across the table or putting them into stacks. I can see groupings and progression through the collection.

I can write out comments and experiment with things on paper in a way I can't with the computer. I can write out a new line and look at it in comparison to other lines in the poem. I can draw arrows to move things up or down or switch words around. I can draw a line through a word and consider removing it without removing it on the computer which means a hassle of back-clicks if I want to restore it.

Then after I have marked up the pages I can return to the computer and change file, then print it out and set the old and new side by side to compare the changes.

I know I can do all these things on the computer but when I relax in my favorite chair and hold a few pages I have a different mood as I read the poems. I can look at them with a new freshness. I can read them to enjoy and not as a project. For a moment I am not being a worker in words but an audience, and I am able to see the poems the way my future readers will.

Maybe I'm old fashioned but seeing the pages and touching the paper gives me a sense of interaction that I lack using the computer.  Somehow I feel better connected to the printed page than I do on with a digital image on a screen, but the functionality of the computer gets the work done. I guess I will have to struggle to find balance in my efforts between paper and electronic.

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(c) Adron 10/1/17

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