Those of you who know me a bit would probably agree – I don’t do detail. I’m a big picture person, an enthusiast, a kick-starter, but I’m pretty rubbish at the small, small stuff.
The editing process for Fir for Luck keeps throwing new things at me – for weeks, things went very quiet as Cranachan HQ busied themselves with other, more urgent deadlines. But all of a sudden, the ride gathered pace again: I received – deep breath – the typeset version of my manuscript.
It was a moment, no doubt about that. I clicked to open the document, and there it was: my book, for the first time, looking like a book. Laid out into pages just as it will be. The centre fold, the fonts, the indents, the gaps. I had no idea how much this stuff mattered until I saw it.
Dun-dun-DUUUUN (Dramatic accent sound effect)…
I spotted it. A missing speech mark! My blood pressure rose and I looked more closely.
As great as it looked, it magnified a whole host of inaccuracies, clunky bits, repetitions, inconsistencies. A minor character seemed to have two different surnames at different times. Another character had drowned at the beginning of the novel, but near the end they had somehow become a soldier who never came back. Urgh! Worst of all, I had somehow missed not one, not two but three editor’s comments which were now happily showing up as part of my text.
My stomach clenched. I hung my head. These were my mistakes after all. My mistakes, which I had sent off to the publishers with the heading ‘DONE!’…
Deep breath again.
All right then. I assumed my battle stance at the laptop. I would eradicate them, one by one. However much they would try to hide, not one of these mistakes could make it through alive. I needed to be merciless. The worst bit was: I couldn’t edit them out myself, as by this stage it all has to be done by the editor. So instead of quickly deleting and pretending it had never happened, I had to list the issues one by one and send them as a gigantic document to Cranachan. I became obsessed with detail. Yes. Me.
My mother, over to visit from Germany, passed by amused as I gritted my teeth and ignored her. I began to get up with my oldest for her early morning paper round so I could go square-eyed and read, re-read and examine my manuscript as I kept track of the changes. Once complete, I emailed Cranachan hopefully: Erm…, would you mind fixing these ten thousand issues in my manuscript when you get a minute…?
Turns out they don’t mind finding issues because it means the MS is better by the time it gets out there.
Apparently finding mistakes with a typeset MS is quite normal. Apparently, other writers also overuse the word ‘really’. Also, it would appear, it’s not advisable to have lots of commas and semicolons all in the same sentence when you are writing for Middle Grade readers. Yep, that does make sense.
So we’re all good. For the moment. Not long, and the advance review copies will be ordered.