Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mission Accomplished: Copyediting

Heidi sent the manuscript to Wayne State University Press (WSUP) in much better condition than she received it a month and a half ago. I feel as thought I got something that few writers ever get anymore, excellent editing. This book will be much better as a result of her mucking around in the manuscript. Perhaps the book will even win prizes as a result. The book is dedicated to Christopher, though he doesn't know it yet (unless he reads this blog). We just celebrated our twenty-first wedding anniversary on Thursday, and I realize that he makes me the best writer I can be, simply by tolerating my eccentricities, and by giving me health insurance so I don't have to get a full-time job. Oh, and his good humor and clever conversation and the way he can't keep his hands off me. He'd probably like it if I worked full-time and put us in a higher standard of living, but he doesn't tell me so, and he doesn't ever make me feel bad about my chosen way of life. Christopher was photographing people's eyes the other day, and this is a photo he took of his own.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pineapple Head

Okay, I'm in the editing phase, so I'm going over the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb (note I did use the hyphen in the two-word adjective... I'm on a grammatical roll, here), but I couldn't resist sending the press one more photo... The gal in the grass skirt is Holly Schwartz at an island party at my house a few years ago. I sent it because the Wayne State folks asked me for my own opinion about the photos I'd already sent them... they asked which ones I liked best. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude, and so immediately mucked up the phone lines with more, irrelevant photos.

Back to the editing, let me warn you that things can go wrong with the electronic editing. For example, Heidi sent me the manuscript at night, and the next day I spent most of the day working on it, saving it every half hour or so. Before going to bed I opened up a bunch of other files, pushing that file down the list of files on my quickie file opening menu. The following day I got up, ready to get to work, and the file was nowhere to be found. I looked for an hour, then dared not spend any more time searching. I started over.

However, what goes right with the electronic editing is more profound. I feel comfortable making the changes that need to be made, that should be made. And even at this late date, I have found two incorrect elements in the book. In one scene I have a piece of 3/4 inch plywood and in the next I refer to it as 1/4 inch plywood. Hard to believe, unless you know that originally the passage referred to cutting a hole in the floor but I changed it to cutting a hole in the wall. Still. Unforgivable.

Okay, back to work.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Manuscript Back for Final Visit

Tonight my copy editor Heidi Bell returned my manuscript to me for final perusal. In anticipation of the arrival of my darling manuscript, I cleaned my office, even got down on my hands and knees and sucked up the spiders under my table. I have to say I’ve had some worrisome nights while Heidi had my manuscript. I even dreamed about the wood floor in my dojo.

More than a year ago, I organized the building of a wood floor for my dojo. With help from dojo friends, I ordered the wood and other materials, then supervised the construction of the floor, which went beautifully, and then I screwed up the finishing of the floor so it’s gouged and unattractive. It’s fine and perfectly functional for a dojo floor, but it’s not a perfect floor. I’ve felt bad about that floor, and so I’ve been scared about the final editing of my book, thinking I could screw it up the way I did the floor. After all, I don’t want a functional book--I want a beautiful book, a flawless book.

So it meant a lot to me that Heidi wrote, “Don't be scared, Bon. It's in really, really good shape.” I had made the most changes to the newest story, so I was glad to read Heidi's note that said, “I especially love what you did with ‘King Cole's American Salvage.’ It is beautifully streamlined and yet nothing is missing.” Heidi’s had a rough week while working on my manuscript; she spent three days at the Mayo Clinic where her husband had surgery on his throat, and then she got home to find her hours were cut at her job. As soon as my darling Christopher gets home I will open a bottle of wine and we will drink to Heidi. Tomorrow I will wake up early and open the manuscript file.

The photograph above is a tiny copy of one that the folks at Wayne State U. Press are giving the designers to consider, along with Mary Whalen’s photo of the guy and gal and car, and the photo one called Burl’s Beans. Erin Dorbin took this photo in the laundromat in Galesburg, Michigan.