Today's gem was from a reader complaining about comments in a previous edition. 'Not all of us have access to resources to fix such things as grammar and punctuation if our educations weren't as exceptional as [Name's].' The writer goes on to add up the costs of critique and copy-editing, postage and ink, and says 'Punctuation and grammar have never been my strongest point. ... My story has just as much right to be read as best sellers. So what can a self-published author do?'
I have great sympathy with those who feel that they have trouble with reading and writing, and especially with dyslexics, some of whom are brilliant story-tellers. They have very specific problems, which can scarcely be overcome by any means other than by paying a copy editor. Yes, it puts them at a disadvantage, but most of them are philosophical about it. But what of other writers who have no diagnosed disability? Is it enough to blame a poor education?
I would have loved to be able to play tennis. It wasn't that I was never fit enough: my Saturday job as a teenager was teaching in a dancing school. But no one ever bothered to teach me hand-eye co-ordination, so I spent five years at secondary school swiping wildly with a tennis racket and being tacfully ignored, along with my fellow sports failures, by the PE teacher.
I didn't attempt to take up tennis professionally. To do so I would have had to embark on a serious course of remedial lessons in technique, and resigned myself to many years of practice, with no assurance of success at the end.
Yes, it may be that some writers know that their education failed to prepare them for their chosen career. But in these days of opportunities for mature students, literacy classes and the availability of the internet, it's not beyond anyone to find their own remedy. Lynn Price writes on the Behler Blog:
You can have a great story idea, but if you write like you barely made it out of 8th grade, then no reputable editor will take pity on you and offer you a contract. They’ll kick you to the curb. Quickly.Harsh words. But they come from a professional, and she's worth listening to.
Being an expert in your craft should take precedence over your desire to be published. Sadly, I see the opposite in large quantities.
Stamp this on your forehead: If you haven’t learned how to write, then you haven’t planned for success.
Sorry to sound so crabbit. It's the cough.