Can you still love your book during proofreading?
I am doing the second run of proofreading for ‘The Piano Player’s Son’. I need to concentrate, be on the alert for small mistakes, things that can so easily escape notice – ‘The Paris in in the spring’ syndrome. I like editing. The really challenging process of creating has taken place, and I can concentrate on strengthening, focusing, highlighting and cutting. It’s exciting as the work becomes more polished.
But the nitty gritty of proofing is another matter. I’ve read these words tens, hundreds of times before. My eyes glaze over. I get to the bottom of the page and realise I haven’t absorbed a thing. I start at the top again. That sounds stupid! How did I ever think that sentence made sense or was interesting?
My biggest fear when proofreading is missing grammar or spelling mistakes. I can probably cope with the odd missing word or misplaced dialogue, but imagine the mortification of ‘whose’ when it should be ‘who’s’ or ‘their’ instead of ‘there’?
Then there are the things that might have been missed at the editing stage – the horror of discovering a character’s eyes are blue on page ten, but have miraculously changed to brown forty pages later! Or – as I’m struggling with at the moment – a sudden realisation that the dates and ages don’t add up. Why on earth didn’t I realise that earlier?
The more I read, the more things tend to sound mundane. And I’m right back at that first draft stage of This is all rubbish! Why am I bothering?
But I love these characters, don’t I? I should do – I gave birth to them. I’ve given huge chunks of my life to them, at times living with them more vividly than with the ‘real’ people. Their stories fascinate me; the complexities of their relationships intrigue me. I don’t want to fall out of love with them.
And that’s one of my fears – will I rediscover my passion and excitement for the novel when this stage is over? Or will my sense of tedium and staleness spill over and taint the finished product? Experience tells me they won’t. I remember going through similar stages when I was proofreading ‘Unravelling’. And yet, once the novel itself was in my hands, my joy was boundless. So, I’m sure the same will happen this time – it’s just that it seems a long way off at the moment.
I need to think positive thoughts while I get through this next bit, so Lindsay, repeat after me ‘I love The Piano Player’s Son’, ‘I love The Piano Player’s Son’, I love ‘The Piano Player’s Son’! Has it worked? I don’t know – ask me tomorrow!Tags: proofreading