What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)
My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.
You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.
Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Brother, I wish they'd listened.
Happy New Year to everyone who reads this. My wishes are for everybody's safety and good health going forward.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
A managing editor in a religious publishing house once told me,
"Bob, you know what we call you around here? 'The whore.'"
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Most of the time, a press's managing editor sends me a job, and I edit and return it to the managing editor. No mess, no fuss. I also can say certain things to the managing editor about a book that would be more difficult to say to an author.
[Sometimes, though, I wonder if presses don't always know when there's such a problem with the manuscript, and they want the anonymous copyeditor to blame when they bring the hammer down on the author.]
When I'm put in touch with the author, I can't hide behind the anonymity that copyediting usually provides. Thankfully I've never had the paths cross of Author Contact and Rancid Book. I recently had one back to back with the other, and I started thinking how fortunate that the author I was dealing with had written a very nice book and wasn't trying to pass off a bunch of financial and demographic research done in 2004 in the present tense as if it were still relevant.
But I digress. Imagine that.
In a recent project I copyedited, the press had coded the book before it came to me. Thus, the material below in angle brackets appeared before most blocks of copy. The material following the second bracket is what the code stands for:
Happy Thanksgiving, folks. Hope it was a good one. We forsook the home event, and three of us -- myself, my wife, our younger son -- drove to Weaverville, NC, to a nice little restaurant and had a delightful meal and walked around a little afterward. Back home, nothing but another night at home. Nice change of pace. No preparation, no clean-up, and 90 minutes or so of quiet conversation that might be better than we'd get at home, with all the jumping up and down around the table that would be going on. My younger son's the type whom sometimes you don't know what's going on until you ask, and some of the time you don't even know what to ask, so the occasional direct answers and questions we get out of him in such situations are always helpful. His older brother has gone through parts of his life when we seemed to hear most of the goings-on in his head. That has never, ever been the case with our younger issue. I guess there's benefits to both. And it comes and goes. Once our younger son gets on a roll, it's nice to find out what's happening in his life.
I'll probably fry a turkey at Christmas, but I think we just made it a family tradition to get the hell out of town and go eat somewhere else on Thanksgiving. I guess it's our Central Appalachian version of Thanksgiving in Chinatown, which we've also done. With Asheville and environs 75 minutes of a beautiful drive down the road, that's not a problem.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
At the funeral home, I wrapped up all the ashes from the burned part of the family money gift [tshuab ntawv vam sab].
Careful readers will note that the "v" in "vam" is not italicized. [Be honest. Did you see it?]
Most cases, one might simply think it's an error and italicize it, right? I queried, and received this pretty fascinating answer from the author:
"Nonitalicized if spoken aloud; italicized if thought. Stet."
I hope Hmong copyeditors get paid the big bucks.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Friday, November 9, 2012
Personally, I was insulted to see a vote total at one point in the night for my home state that included Virgil Goode's numbers, but not Gary Johnson's. I went to the secretary of state's website, and Johnson was pulling more than twice as many votes at that time as Goode. So what's the takeaway here?
Don't forget, folks, I spent much of my adult life voting Libertarian. This year, I realized that the vote I made for the Libertarian ticket in 1980 included one of the Koch brothers as vice president. Yowza.
Savannah and youth and change have something to do with this week's theme.
|Sunrise at Isle of Hope, Savannah|
It's 170,000 words of mostly oral history and reprints, and that's a nice few days on the farm for a copyeditor. Not a lot to do.
Interestingly, I was familiar with the Laotian cast of characters from this little ditty (no, you don't have to watch it):
The book I'm editing is part of a series on Southeast Asian history and U.S. involvement in it during the post-World War II era -- from Texas Tech University Press. If you're interested in military history and U.S. history in the 1960s and 1970s, the books are well worthwhile. And no, folks, it's not a bunch of anti-U.S. claptrap. Not at all. Texas Tech is devoted to Vietnam and Southeast Asian studies.
Believe it or not, Laos has something to do with this week's theme. Texas, thankfully not. Ginsberg? Nothing much I'm aware of, except for his appearance at University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1977 -- a tape of which was the first recording I heard of the song above.
(It was part of the same speakers' series in which I met Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, a native of Louisville, KY, the next year.)
Back in the days even before I was old enough to start voting Libertarian, I spent a lot of time traveling up and down I-95. Dad Czar and I, like good New York Jews, would drive dutifully down to Miami Beach in the middle of every December (1967-1976), and then in 1977 I began my regular New York-Atlanta-New York drives for three years, continuing them off and on for many years after that.
I always knew I was firmly back in the Southeast when I'd emerged from the Baltimore/Washington nonsense, and made it through the perpetually under construction freeway through downtown Richmond, to break onto traffic-less highway and inhale deeply the smell of the RJ Reynolds tobacco plant -- a strange and surprising and welcoming odor when you're driving 65 miles an hour in the middle of the night.
We're back where we started. Savannah to Richmond. My Montgomery, AL, native wife and my two sons born in Atlanta would be proud.
This week's Haiku Monday theme is southeast.
That might be Asia, or the United States (my adopted home, whether the locals like it or not), or for those of you of a more directional bent, something the compass kicks off. For those of you who enjoy American football, there's always the SEC. You don't have to worry about my having favorites in that conference; I dislike them all, some more than others.
And it doesn't have to be southeast geographically; whatever you can take away from the word is fair game.
Visuals: Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Links: Yeah. Music: If it's good. Just haiku? Delightful.
Limit two entries, please. I'm strict on syllables but little else (although I will say this: punctuate purposefully). Other than that, post entries in the comments below. Deadline is midnight PST on Monday.
Have fun, folks. Thanks, Fishy.
Monday, November 5, 2012
Ashen past; dreams wintering,
Seasons go and stop—
In the black strip ’tween Mom’s grin
And child’s pigtailed angst
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Sandy plows fiercely through czar's childhood: Staten Island, where I grew up, and Breezy Point, on the same spit of land where I worked for two summers.
Not, of course, that I think of Sandy as divine judgment, but lyrics of a certain song came to mind when I heard of the events at Breezy Point. And I want to emphasize that I don't think anyone deserved what happened here. They're just lyrics, and I can't really stop the linkages -- not that I have to report them here, either.
I wish I could find the John Miller version of "Where Shall I Be" online, but it's impossible to find any John Miller on youtube from the mid-1970s, or much at all. If you like blues, gospel, American songbook, high-quality finger-picking guitar, and a voice kinda in the range of Alan Wilson from Canned Heat, find John Miller music. (I've got all the albums, and one day I'll digitize them. Of all the albums I have, those are close to the top of the list. And Fahey.)
[I throw it open for discussion: What's the one song you wish you had a digital version of but, as far as you know, has never been digitized? The first song I digitize is Cool It Reba, "Money Fall out the Sky."]
Lyrics of "Where Shall I Be" (trad., arr. John Miller; not the song in the video below):
Where shall I be when the first trumpet sounds
Where shall I be when it sounds so loud
Sounds so loud it'll wake up the dead
Where shall I be when it sounds?
I'll be trying on my robe when the first trumpet sounds
Trying on my robe when it sounds so loud
Sounds so loud it'll wake up the dead
Where shall I be when it sounds?
God gave Noah the rainbow sign
Won't be water but the fire next time
Sounds so loud it'll wake up the dead
Where shall I be when it sounds?
Plenty of interesting versions of "Where Shall I Be" on the youtube, but none I found included the lyric highlighted above.
I heard from my brother, a Staten Island resident who thankfully lives about 400 feet above sea level. He has made it through so far with only a crushed and totaled car, 37 hours without power or hot water, and a live-in 85-year-old recently immigrated Russian mother-in-law whose cognac supply was almost exhausted. Lucky indeed.
Staten Island lost 19 people of the 94 dead from Sandy so far, and was also disproportionately the most affected locale by the events of September 11, 2001, in terms of loss of life.
Horrible events, and I'm very sad to see my hometown take another devastating hit.
[More from my brother: just received another message. His wife and mother-in-law went yesterday to be with some folks they know who were understandably upset at seeing corpses washing ashore. My brother also did some exploring last night. Said that there were 300 vehicles lined up for gas at midnight near our family's old car dealership . . . at a station that wouldn't open for another seven hours.]
In the meantime . . .
Monday, October 29, 2012
“In Southwest Virginia, they’ve advised possibly toward the later part of the week we could be looking at rain or snow,” said Pokey Harris, emergency management director for Washington County, Va. “We’ll continue to monitor the system.”
Could you take seriously an emergency management director named "Pokey"?
[UPDATE 10/31: I've apparently offended the image gods, and the photo below -- pulled from images.google.com -- has been removed. Thanks for keeping up with the blogs, folks.]
Given the tornadoes here a few years back, she's had to deal with some serious issues, and I'm sure does a hell of a job . . . but still.
I must admit to reading "Pokey" and thinking something more along the lines of this:
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
One of the lines that Thompson quotes -- I believe from Jeremiah -- is "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."
Of course, I'm prone to misinterpretation and plucking quotes out of context, but I feel like my harvest just past with one of the most ridiculous work stretches I've ever encountered. The red leaves tell me summer has ended. Salvation? Don't get me started.
Just finished a mildly interesting book on the mutual dialogue ("trialogue") of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The Jews don't have much to say about the afterlife. What happens now is what counts.
One of the chapter's authors brings up the interesting point, though, that a religion that excludes people in its afterlife necessarily is saying something about how the religion will treat those excluded people in this life.
I've found myself giving rather specific advice to a couple of editorial newcomers lately -- as far as mapping out a freelance career and how to approach editorial changes. I enjoy doing that, and I hope they get something out of it. Some folks helped me along the way.
I'm enjoying a moment of relative calm. One of the hardest things about being a freelancer is making yourself work when you'd really rather not. It's been months and months since I've felt like I should be doing anything with my waking hours but working, so that I've not even had to face the choice. I have nothing due in the morning, and my world's not going to fold like a napkin if I don't work to exhaustion. It's a nice feeling.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
On the matter of the end-times, I can think of no better image of the apocalypse than needing to wear earplugs in a library at a Trappist monastery, where silence throughout is the presumptive ground zero.
It's not like the monks were running around singing show tunes. More to the point, some of the other retreatants weren't wrapped up in the silence concept, even though that's the exact point, and one about which the abbey makes no secret. You almost literally can't turn around in some places, and certainly in the rooms, without a reminder to keep your piehole shut, suggested very nicely and thoughtfully, of course.
But, what are you gonna do? I'll be back another time, and it'll probably be more like the first time, where the silence was pretty well observed.
I also availed myself of some more Catholic devotional moments this time -- specifically, recitation of the Rosary and the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Now that's some wild stuff. I need Aunty to fill me in on the latter. The former seems to be bundled up in meditation and numerology. I can deal with that. I don't know what's going on in the latter. I spoke afterward with one of the devout, a Eucharistic minister, who tried to explain what I'd just sat through for an hour. It didn't help.
I mean, I'm in a room with people who sincerely believe that they are in the presence of Jesus (I found that out afterward, although I kinda knew it), and most of them sat like they were waiting for the bus. Maybe hanging out with the Messiah and Son of God just gets routine after a while. Perhaps all the activity is going on internally. Fine. What's the point of the device then? A monk comes and gets this thing out of a little medicine cabinet behind the altar, blesses it or kisses it, places it on the pulpit, and leaves for an hour. Comes back in, gets it, holds it up, puts it back in the cabinet, turns the key. I guess it's to help people focus? The Catholic Church is into totems?
I was hoping for a splinter of the cross or part of Jesus's foreskin or something. I can't imagine what the same rite looks like at the Catholic church around the corner from me.
Anyway, settling back in the saddle. Because of some family medical issues that consumed the run-up to Gethsemani, I was not able to go there without work, although the work done was at least appropriate to the site.
One day, hopefully in 2014, I'm going to schedule a seven-day stint there, and maybe the no-work thing can be realized at that time. To spend seven days there with nothing I have to read . . . and not needing earplugs . . . would be, like the Blessed Sacrament, ineffable.
|To the water pump, approx. two miles|
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
One book series we worked on, or tried to, came from an author who didn't understand that most good books have a story -- you know, a beginning, a middle, and an end. When things work out really nicely, even individual chapters read that way.
This author would include so many sidebars and boxes and pull quotes and illustrations that determining the actual theme of the book became damn near impossible. As a copyeditor, that's a problem for me, because part of my job is coding the text: instructing the designer how each element of the book should be treated. When a chapter is 75 percent non-body-text, it's a sign of bad organization.
As much as my book designer pal and I tried to explain it to the author, the concept never really seemed to sink in.
Another problem is that this author is the type who wants to sit down with a designer and create each page to accommodate all the switches and turns. That might have been OK decades ago. No one has the time anymore. It's an age of specialists. And if you're an author reading this, take away this one fact: In a perfect world, the person designing your book should never have to read a word of it, nor care in the least what the book is about. The text should arrive at the designer's coded and ready to go.
And here's a little secret, too: I don't really care what your book is about either. When an author asks if I want to know what a project is about, I'll generally say, "It doesn't really matter, but if you want to tell me, go ahead."
What's my point? I have a few.
A. I'm too busy to be writing this blog entry. But I'm avoiding a very particular project. Why am I avoiding that project? Because it involves me getting down and dirty with artwork. Czar don't do artwork -- at least not with a smile on my face. But I know that once I get started, it'll be easy and I won't dread it next time . . . that is, unless I wait for the muscle memory to fade.
B. If you came here expecting the further tales of Ulysses, it's going to have to wait. I might just go Raoul Duke and start repurposing emails I sent during the course of the project to some of my pals. It's a story that must be told, because it informs much of what I do. That is, how do I approach a stack of paper when my goal is reaching the bottom of that stack of paper in the most efficient manner, regardless of its content?
For example, I just finished working on a collection of short stories and poems -- the kind of stuff I studiously avoid in the New Yorker, because fiction and poetry ain't my bag. But what do I do when I'm in the middle of a really intense short story and I don't want to turn the page because I'm already emotional as hell and living on the edge, and nothing at all can send me into weeping spasms? I was reading one story in particular, and I was in good page-turning, moneymaking mode, and I got to a point where I didn't want to know what was going to happen next -- because I didn't know how my fragile psyche would respond.
That's a good story. My usual metric for whether I like the fiction (novels) I'm paid to read is if I care about what happens to the characters by about 30 pages into the manuscript. In a short story, though, that number of pages is vastly compressed.
Frankly, I never had that feeling about Ulysses. But I personally don't think that Joyce's book was designed to make readers care about those characters either. Maybe I'm wrong.
C. I've said this three times today to different people: Anyone who is good at what they do seems absolutely exhausted these days. And the exhaustion just seems to attract more work. There's really no way out.
But . . .
I just lined up 5 days at the Abbey of Gethsemani. Early October.
If you see me there, ignore me. I promise you I'll do my best to give you the same treatment.
Monday, August 13, 2012
In the meantime, I offer an email I just sent to a managing editor, one who fears showing up in this column of the blog. But that's what she gets for loading me down with crazy, though remunerative, deadlines.
Ah, the power of the virtual press.
Just a few to get your heart started. And this is a second edition, huh?
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Oberon’s mischief reveals
William’s Summer farce