Friday, June 2, 2017

My book will have errors in it

The good folks at Washington Writers' Publishing House had a lot of good advice for me when they told me I'd won this year's contest and we started to get my book ready for publication. But one guy, the one who won last year, had a suggestion I couldn't implement: he said it would be a good idea to hire a professional editor.  He guessed it would cost about $300-$400, which was where I got off the train. I already spend enough time and money from the family treasury on my writing, but that was just too much. I couldn't justify it.

So three members of the WWPH and I did our best to error-proof it ourselves. I thought we were doing pretty well, but less than a month ago, one of the editors had a long list of suggested changes that involved moderate levels of remodeling to the stories. That was fine: they were good suggestions, but every time I write something new, I make new mistakes.

My orthography has gotten terrible of late. The words "of, on, or" come out in nearly a roulette-wheel fashion. Same with "it, is, in." My brain is just getting muddled. I think it's partly a result of trying to carry on so much of my life in different languages. Even my mother tongue is getting knocked around up in my synapses pretty badly. There are days I go to say a world I've been saying for decades and it's just..gone. Days later, it magically reappears. One wag of a country preacher I once knew might say I'd educated myself beyond my intelligence.

In any event, I've had to read my own stories front to back four or five times since March. I'm now very sick of my own stories. On my last read-through, the one done after receiving the early proofs of the interior of the book, I did the best I could, but at some level I just didn't have the requisite energy to really error-proof it fully. And I'm sure at least one correction led to another error.

But I'm okay with that. Any errors in there are my own, and they're the result of my negotiation between what I wanted the book to be and what I'm actually able to make it. At some point, the work is finished, and what happens to it is beyond my control. That point for me is now. Or maybe two weeks before it was actually supposed to be finished.


  1. My professor of Greek epigraphy, who was excellent in such matters, spoke with great admiration of a journal editor, dead, I suppose, by the time I took the seminar, who would edit by reading every article backwards, one word at a time! I imagine you catch a lot of errors that way, although I'd die from such a process.

    Where's tonight's reading?

    1. It was in Mount Vernon on St. Paul's. It was fairly well attended. Small place, but it was full. 4 readers, I went second. Mrs. Heretic and our older offspring came to cheer, so it was nice.

  2. "There are days I go to say a world I've been saying for decades ..."

    (Once you've corrected the typo, feel free to delete this comment.)

    1. Might as well leave it, since it's topical.