May 10, 2015

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY: Volunteer Writing For Fun and No Profit!
Last night I finished a project that took several months of my writing time; huge amounts recently as I raced to finish the project in order to continue my own current project.

In December, I volunteered to edit a manuscript of a colleague of mine. They had sent it to iUniverse once upon a time, and the company said that it all KINDS of potential…but it needed work.

Understatement of the CENTURY.

I volunteered to edit the memoir for the author.

There’s no denying that it’s important. There’s no denying that it was fascinating.

There’s also no denying that it was not only filled with spelling errors, context errors, misstatements of history, and numerous other flaws. It was also written as stream-of-consciousness with no particular regard for chronology.

That’s right: there endless run on sentences that would change tense, character, and time frame. The writer would go from talking about their current experiences, to those of their great, great grandmother. This was without punctuation and without any kind of warning.

Let me say here that if I didn’t think that this story was important, I would have returned the file to the author with a note that said, “I don’t think this is for me.”

As for this manuscript, I finally hit on the solution of “dating” parts as I read them. Now the manuscript ranges from “Before 1900” to “Now” or “Present”. The narrative covered some 150 years of family, personal, and world history and how the author interacted with the men, women, and children from those times.

Last night, at a cost of time spent with my wife, housework, yard work, and working on the edits of my own manuscript – which is due back to the editor at the end of THIS week – I finished.

Would I do it again?

Not if you paid me.

Besides being a subject I typically have no interest in (history), there were parts that were so intimate that they made me extremely uncomfortable; and there were opinions that were, while not directed at me personally, were directed at me nevertheless. It was often difficult to remain objective. It was difficult not to take the narrative personally.

I wish the author the best of luck, but this will have to be the end of my involvement because I have come away from the project almost entirely drained emotionally.

Should I have done it? It’s a moot point now, the project is in the author’s hands. But I was wondering what others out there thought…

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