I just made 30+ minor edits to Warming Up, the novel which will be published by She Writes Press in the fall. This is after my agent sent her 30+ “pick-ups” over the weekend–little things like commas, and extra spaces, and the occasional clunker of a word. This, after the thing has been read word-for-word by at least 8 different people, and in part by dozens more. This, after how many times I’ve readied the manuscript, or part of it, for a contest.
How can it be that little typos continue to plague, undetectable by the spell check system: over the weekend, I found a “com” for a “come.” Of course the eye glosses over–most of us tend to read by the word or sentence, not by the letter. Like that nonsensical paragraph that went around the FB world not to long ago–the human mind can make sense out of gibberish, reading what it expects to see from just a handful of letters in the corrrect positions.
Publishers demand better. Reading my own work for clunkers comes relatively easy to me, and I am forever toying with the language. I do know how to spell, and in my time, won a few bees. Put an associate’s work in front of me and my laser vision goes straight to their typos.
But my own work? The little stuff plagues me. I try to help myself by hiring third party readers who’ve never heard my physical voice and have never met me personally, by and giving myself long periods during which I don’t read a work, so that I can come back to it with a fresh eye, but there’s nothing like the panic of pushing the “publish” button to sharpen one’s critiquing and proofing skills.
I’m sending off Warming Up today in as perfect shape as I’m likely to be able to make it–at this time. Hopefully the editors at She Writes will pick up whatever errors remain, but it does strike me that over 80,000 words, well, perfection is a lovely goal–just so it doesn’t interfere with the other goal, of publishing a perfectly good enough piece. As the Olympics have shown us over the past week, even the most elite athletes in the world suffer a tenth of a point reduction here and there, but as a viewer/reader, I’m still thrilled by their performance. With the help of many, many people, I’ve made Warming Up as good as I can, and I hope that come fall, you’ll enjoy it as much as I’ve worried about it–and more!!