Thursday, February 25, 2010

In Absentia

If you haven't heard from me much lately (and I'm well aware that you haven't), it's because I've been reading my manuscript. Again. And again. I've had it in my possession for two weeks and I need to send it back on Monday; I'm about halfway through my second reading. Since I have approximately six million chapters, this means that I'm reading a chapter or two a day. It is akin to torture, not least because I'm confronted with all of my failings. How did I let it go out with so many awkward sentences and inconsistently formatted footnotes, anyway?? And there are all kinds of errors in my Latin and Middle English!

(Yes, it's been copy-edited, but the copy editor evidently didn't see fit to perfect my prose style. Hmph!) (I'm kidding. I mean, he didn't perfect my prose style, but obviously that (a) is not his job and (b) would have really annoyed me if he had. That's my job. Or at least, it's my job to approximate perfection. But on this second read-through, I think that I'm getting a little squirrelly and starting to actually believe that I need to perfect every sentence--and that that's, like, possible.) (Oh, and it's kind of funny that the copy editor did correct my "inquiry"/"enquiry" mistakes--that's something that I'm always correcting in other people's work, but apparently didn't even notice in my own. The shame!)

So I now have a theory, though, that the purpose of forcing an author to do several rounds of edits in the final/close-to-final production stages is so that the author will never, ever want to read one word of the blasted thing ever, ever again, and thus will not lose her shit over the various imperfections that will inevitably find their way into the final book.

Because OH MY GOD I do not want to read these chapters EVER, EVER AGAIN. EVER. Not even the good bits.

(As a side note, it is interesting to me to see how my writing matured in the actual drafting of the dissertation/MS; the later chapters are written in a much livelier and more interesting style than the first ones. I've revised the hell out of the first chapter that I wrote, in particular, to try to make it less boring, but I'm not sure that I've totally succeeded. Oh Well.)


Notorious Ph.D. said...

I hate to be the bearer of the bad news, but you WILL have to read those chapters again, in proofs. And that time will be even worse, because you'll know that you can fix spelling/punctuation/factual errors, but those really clunky sentences that get through will have to stand.

You have my sympathies. Perhaps we should celebrate the end of it all (for both of us) at k'zoo?

Earnest English said...

I applaud you for going so carefully through your prose! I've had to go through a particular piece of writing many times in the last few weeks (not my fault -- changing editor desires), and the last time I absolutely couldn't read the sentences again. I just couldn't. There is probably some glaring error in there, and I just can't see it -- like the big misspelled word on page 10 and ridiculous sentences that just end in my dissertation. So, you rock.

heu mihi said...

Oh, I know I'll have to read them again! And index! Woo hoo!

I meant that ALL of these combined rereadings will KILL the damn book for me, I mean really. It's already dead. And I'm not done.

Yes, a Kalamazoo celebration! Capital idea. (Even though I won't be done with the index yet. Whatever.)

Thanks, EE! But don't be too impressed: sometimes "reading" means "eyes moving, brain elsewhere."