The first time I received my manuscript back from my conceptual editor, it was sent to me under the title, “First Edits.” My many months worth of writing had just undergone two months of being scrutinized and critiqued and, subsequently, transformed into a multicolored collection of pages that could contend with Joseph’s coat for the designation, “most vibrant.”
My first response was, “What?” But then I studied the pages, figured out the color-coding, and said to myself, “I can do this.”
Under the pressure of a fifteen day deadline for returning the manuscript to my editor, I parked myself in front of my computer and began to work. What I soon discovered was the truth in the warning that proofreading one’s own work is not good. This is because, for people who are proficient readers, the mind tends to read what it knows should be on the page, regardless of what is actually there.
Sentences with mixed-up words demonstrate just how much prior knowledge works for us during the act of reading. The following two sentences serve to illustrate how easy it is to ignore misspellings and read correctly despite what is on the page. “Did you konw you're a guiens? Taht you can atllacuy raed tihs porves taht fcat.”
As I proofed and made changes to my manuscript, I became more and more obsessed about accuracy. Tired of hearing my grousing, Hubby volunteered to read the manuscript aloud to me while I checked it against my original copy. Have you read a novel aloud lately? It consumed many hours each day for several days.
At the end of the proofing/changing process, I sent my now perfect manuscript back to my editor and, while waiting to hear back, I decided to read some novels I recently purchased. During my fifteen day wait I read three.
The first novel I read had been translated from Swedish to English. The story lost much in the translation and had enough back-story for three books. The second novel was by a best-selling author. At one point in the story I couldn’t help but notice that, even though the protagonist left home dressed in a navy blue gown with gray beading on the collar and cuffs, one page later, after she arrived at her destination, the gown had turned gray. (I read the section three times to be sure I had not misread.) The third novel was a “debut novel” by a writer from England. Before I reached the end of that story, I was actually keeping track of how many pages I could read before I found the next spelling or grammatical error.
So, by the time the first of May arrived and my “perfect” copy was returned, I had decided that I very much appreciate an editor who works so hard to save me from someone counting my goofs while they read. Now, on to round two.
Like the colors Lady Editor chooses! Love Hubby!