I’m currently reading the first proofs of The Wicker Man (due out in August). While necessary, proofreading is a pain (and I work in publishing!). You have to put everything else aside and concentrate on what you’ve already written, and if you’re like me, moved on from, to get your earlier work out. I’m extremely time conscious. I have many things that I would like to accomplish in the time I have left. Right now one of my priorities is book six. It’s already written, but I’m revising it for the umpteenth time. Then the proofs come. This is one of the issues a graphomaniac faces. It’s part of trying to make a life from words. And it distorts time. I submitted my Wicker manuscript back in December. Since then my mind has largely been elsewhere.
Proofreading—or is it proof reading? I’m not a proofreader—isn’t the same as it used to be. These days you proofread a PDF and use the markup tools for changes. I had developed a kind of nostalgia for the old-fashioned proof markings. Now you highlight the offending text and add a note to explain what you would like changed. This makes me worry about time too, since I’m probably among the last generation who will even known what proof markings are, apart from historians of publishing (and yes, there are historians of publishing). I am fortunate in having had a good copyeditor for The Wicker Man. S/he didn’t change much but pointed out where my wording was ambiguous. Those of you who’ve read me for a while know that some of that ambiguity is intentional, no?
A quick turnaround time on proofs is necessary. Of course, mine would arrive on a Wednesday. That very same day I was asked to be a reader-responder to a journal article, also with a brief turnaround time. I wanted to say “No,” but as an editor I know how difficult it is to find reviewers. Anyone who publishes should consider it a moral obligation to review when asked. Just like jury duty. Thursday and Friday mornings were spent reviewing the article (which I hope will be published, whoever wrote it). All of this was done without picking up a pen (as much as I wanted to) or leaving my laptop. As much as I enjoy those proof markings, nobody has the time for them anymore. Even now I’m playing hooky from proofreading to write this blog post. I’d better get back before someone notices that I’m gone.