Monday, 17 October 2011

Where there's a will, there's a way... success. The reason I'm writing this is because today was a very positive day. You should have seen me smiling, it almost hurt. I've sent 1500 words of my current work in progress to the friend, who's helping me with No Wings Attached and its remaining awkward sentences, to see if my syntax, phrasing and other grammar has improved. The results were mind blowing. At least for me. It was an excerpt of the very first unedited draft and although he highlighted silly typos, too, there were actually only four things that needed addressing. In one case, I just couldn't remember the exact word, but that's a minor thing. It means my writing has improved significantly and I'm proud to shout it from the roof tops.

Thinking back to where it started: April 2009, when I decided I wanted to write a compelling novel that people can't put down, when I took on the challenge to write in second language and went through with it. Though it was hard because I had to use my dictionay a lot, it was fun and a massive achievement. Writing a complete book of 120k words is massive already, let alone in second language.
Then I uploaded it on authonomy. Most people were lovely and full of admiration for me. But a few made comments like: Why don't you write it in German and submit to German publishers? I'm sure they'd love a book like that. Translation: your English sucks, so give up! People told me the book read like a badly translated manual and I was fuming. Mainly because I was upfront with writing in second language and I knew it needed proper editing. I wanted comments on the story. Besides: foreigners read the book and could follow the story perfectly fine. So it's not that I wrote something like 'he stood metal on the bread' or something like that. Some sentences didn't make much sense, but the plot was understandable. I had a few English natives who read the whole thing (first uploaded draft) and understood it just fine and liked it a lot.
I was angry and disappointed, because those who said I should write in German and let it translate by a professional, didn't believe in me, in my abilities to learn and improve. How dare you! I thought. But it didn't put me off. Oh no...I was determined to learn.
And so I did. I'm still looking at the 1500 words I got back today and smile. The best thing, though: I'm now able to write to an almost English native standard and am able to translate my books to German, which is a huge plus if you ask me.

I still got a long way to go to get to a point where I'm eventually satisfied with my skills, but thinking how far I've got, I'm sure, I'll get there in the end.

Just to be clear here: my being German is not an excuse for sloppy editing/proofing. I chose to write in English, so I will provide a perfect ms. I wouldn't want to read an error-riddled book, neither in English, nor in German.


  1. Stella, it's been my pleasure to read and comment on an early draft of one of your books. I like your writing style and your voice. You are a storyteller. The world is full of retired school teachers who can correct our grammar, spelling and syntax but nobody can correct a boring story. Your growing success is proof of your talent. Keep on writing!

  2. Dixon! You keep surprising me :-) I'm actually working on the book you've Beta-read, taking a lot of your comments on board. You've been, and always are, a great support and fellow author. Thank you for your continuous support.

  3. Well, your writing in English is infinitely better than mine would be in German! Great that you keep improving, and let's face it, most of us writing in a first language could do with that as well. Ignore the detractors: you have skills to be proud of. And you can do something they can't - ha!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I particularly love that 'ha!' at the end. :-)

    You wouldn't believe if I told you that English speaking/writing authors actually use google translate for the German market. Apparently there are whole books translated that way. Not only do I find that rude, but also incredibly stupid. There's no faster way to destroy your reputation as an author who takes his/her writing seriously.