Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Reading a Book Backward

Gotta do a short post today because I'm proofing the copy of Infinite Space, Infinite God for the publisher. The pre-release promotional copies come out by end of April--if I can get the galley copy to Lida at Twilight Times by Saturday.

I remember the first time I'd seen a galley copy--now called a proof copy by some. I had interviewed Kathleen and W. Michael Gear, and they sent me a copy of their latest book to review. I'd thought it was called "gallows copy," which seemed to fit in my mind. Simplistic gray cover, every error still unchecked--it looked pretty grim to me. I remember being astounded at the errors you found.

Loved the book anyway.

Now it's my turn to put on my editor's hat again, switch my mind to "Anal-retentive grammarian" and read Infinite Space, Infinite God yet again. Only this time, I'm reading it backwards.

Yes, backwards. There's no better way to catch a missing comma, a mis-capitalized word or an awkward phrase than to remove the sentence from its context and look at it in isolation. It's interesting, too, how seeing it in the book form makes a difference. Even though it's been checked twice by me in print and on the computer, by my editor, by a copy editor and again by me on-line, I'm still finding errors, missing words and differences in format. (BTW--you may not realize it from my posts sometimes--I tell folks my Native American name is "Fingers-Stumbling-Over-Keyboard"--but I'm a very good editor when I put my mind in reverse.)

I'm also finding there's no better way to appreciate the terrific writing of some of the contributors. You can tell who writes the great story and who has great writing in the story. last night, as I went over Maya Bohnhoff's "Cruel and Unusual Punishment," I would pause now and then to share a line with my friend over the IM. I paused with Colleen Drippe's "Far Traveler" to write in the margins, "Like this line!" Now, I'm in Rob's and my "These Three," and there are still lines that make me think, "Yeah, got it that time." I'm gaining a whole new appreciation for the talent that shared their stories with me.

I won't go so far as to suggest that you read your favorite book backward, but it is an interesting exercise in writing. And it's very useful when editing.

So, back to the grindstone--222 pages to go and counting down!

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