Yesterday I missed writing my blog because I had to anchor my big butt in my writing chair to proofread FINDING GESSLER for one last time before it goes to press. This is a necessary step because my publishing house doesn’t provide editing or proofreading. so the responsibility falls on the author. After the book has been formatted to go to press, the author is given 48 hours to comb through the text one last time to make last chance corrections. I always feel a lot of pressure at this stage because it’s my last shot to look good in the eyes of my readers.
This time I thought there would be less to “fix” in the 419 pages because I had added one more layer off scrutiny to my team. Linda is a wonderful proofreader, so I thought between me, Heidi (my editor) and Linda I would breeze through the manuscript and find very few things to change. Not so. I still found missing words and wrong word endings–two of my most notorious errors in my prose–to the tune of 4 pages of corrections. Damn! And because the manuscript is sent in a PDF file, I had to make a spreadsheet designating the page number, paragraph number, line number, prose to be fixed, and how it should read to indicate to the publisher where the errors were. It’s a very tedious process, and it took me from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. to get it done. (I did allow time out for potty breaks and lunch and dinner.)
As much as I dislike this part of the process, I know it is so important. In many ways, I wish I could take another whack at my first novel because now I see many things that got missed or could have been better. Maybe someday that will happen if we do a second printing.
In my writing classes, I try to impress upon my students that we all make the same kind of errors over and over again, and they should analyze their writing and spelling errors to uncover what their personal shortcomings are. Knowing your weaknesses is a strength. But like many of my words of wisdom, more often than not, my tips fall on deaf ears. The fact that the students don’t heed my warnings maybe do to the fact that most of them are not writers. They are struggling to get down a paragraph and be satisfied with their first draft. They don’t believe me that writing is a process. They just want to endure the pain once, get the assignment in, and get out of the class as fast as they can.
So, now that I’ve confessed to you my weaknesses, it’s only fair that you share your writing traps. After all, they say misery loves company.