Friday, August 11, 2006

Tales from the Editing Trenches

Today the edit of the "Rider's Back Book" continues. It's going quite well. Dr. Warson has made a few additions to the original rough draft text, and I'm working those in, too. I hope to have it finished by the end of the day. Then I can send him a copy in case he has the time to look it over before Charles and I arrive next week.

This edit is fairly benign. Every so often, there's a turn of phrase that needs cleaning up, or a misspelling that slipped through. (My favorite so far, when talking about what to expect from a neurological exam: "Wrist and grip strength may be testes." Should have been "tested." Much less funny, though...) For the most part, however, there isn't a great deal of rewriting needed.

While on the one hand, this is great, on the other hand, it's easy to lapse into semi-somnolence when reading relatively clean text. For some reason, it's easier to catch mistakes when there are a lot of them. When entire pages go by without any significant errors or required changes, it's easy to lose focus.

Frequent coffee breaks (followed by frequent bathroom breaks) are the answer. Getting up, getting my legs moving, and taking my eyes off the printed page for a short while helps keep the editorial edge.

It's always most difficult editing one's own writing. I know what I meant to say. So, often, my brain just allows my eyes to see what should be on the page.

When the final galley proof comes in, I'll go over the project with a fine-toothed comb. I'll also read it backwards. That's one of the most effective ways to catch errors without getting caught up in the natural flow of the text and substituting words that should be there for the words that actually exist.

For now, I'll just keep plugging away with the initial edit. Listen for the party music when it's finished!