Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Feels like the very first time"*

I got a NOOK for Christmas last year (and cleverly named it Alcove instead of Cranny). No, it hasn't replaced books for me, but I love it, especially for travel because it's so portable. And I recently found a new use for it when I uploaded some of my own writing onto it.

It took some playing around to convert my Word document into a form that looked nice on the NOOK screen (for my first attempt, every two lines ended up on their own paragraph...readable, but a little wacky to look at), but it was worth it. I now have a way to see my writing with fresh eyes.

For all you nonwriters out there, let me explain. I've probably spent hundreds (no exaggeration) of hours staring at the manuscript I'm currently revising. And on my laptop screen, it pretty much always looks the same, no matter how many textual changes I make. Even when I got a new version of Word, the visual feel of the manuscript didn't change much. And printing it out doesn't really change the look of it much either.

(See, I still love a good ol' book...and these are just the signed ones!)

As soon as I put those very same words in a different medium, the whole feel of the piece changed. It was more like I was reading someone else's book because it didn't look like the same old thing I had stared at for a million hours (maybe some exaggeration there).

I can't make any changes directly on the NOOK version (I have to keep my Word version next to me for that), but I caught a bunch of little proofreading mistakes that I had missed on the Word version. And it's not always a bad thing to not be able to immediately make changes because it forced me to just keep reading. That really allowed me to get a feel for how the story flowed as a whole, instead of considering each separate piece of it.

I think I'll add this overview-type revision into my rotation of more hardcore revision/rewriting work. For one, it helped me catch those little mistakes. For two, it forced me to read without making changes. And for three, I got a little patter of excitement in my chest when I saw my humble little manuscript on the NOOK, just like all those real big published books!