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: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Great Moments in Parenthood

I have two sons. One just sat in his last college class today; he graduates in a few weeks. He has something like 198 credit hours, having needed 128 or so to graduate. The extra credits came from AP courses and the requirements of his chosen areas of study; he had to stay in school for four years to complete all the courses for his majors (and minor). So, one about to graduate college. Very proud parents.

Second son is a college freshman. Financial aid deadlines are nigh, and I required access to his student/institutional account. His log-in information, which I can never remember and always neglect to write down somewhere sensible, is a random jumble of letters and punctuation.

Flashback to 1989 and 1992, respectively. Both my sons were delivered via Cesarean section: scooped out of the czarina’s swollen belly, cleaned up, and delivered to the czar’s expectant arms.

Both sons were hyperalert upon arrival. Heads up, eyes focused, looking around, taking it in. I can brag a little; both these kids were smart newborns. Nothing got past them. In the case of one of them, I think more than a little knowledge came from somewhere else.

Immediately in their father’s cradle, both boys began to hear the murmur of one of their dad’s favorite pieces of writing, T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Too many great lines to mention. But upon leaving the womb, the first words they heard other than from medical professionals were as follows:

Let us go then, you and I, 
When the evening is spread out against the sky 
Like a patient etherized upon a table; 
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, 
The muttering retreats 
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels 
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: 
Streets that follow like a tedious argument 
Of insidious intent 
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .  
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”  
Let us go and make our visit. 
I ask my son today for his login information so I can access the financial aid application. 

He writes, “An easy way to remember it: the first letters of Let us go then, you and I. 

I suppose theres something to be said for being in on the ground floor.

This, folks, is the fun of parenthood—not the inevitably negative and crazy-making buttons that all parents put on their children. Neuroses, personality quirks . . . all that stuff comes with the territory, even if they manifest in entirely different ways than in the parents’ generation.

But my son’s explanation retrospectively gave a day of thinking about financial aid and taxes a glow, and that happens—well—never.

I love my children. Very proud of both of them. I’m way behind in work and dealing with long-forestalled issues, but what fine moments and ultimately a red-letter day.

How often do you read that on this blog?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"America . . . I'm trying to come to the point"

But first, this musical interlude.

This video, a little choppy to turn a nine-minute song into a four-minute one, shows the Nice performing "America" from West Side Story. That's Keith Emerson on organ, before Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. This isn't exactly "Lucky Man": the Nice used to brandish whips on stage, and as this video shows, Keith Emerson had a thing for stabbing his organ with kitchen knives. Freudish interlopers need not apply.

Point of the post: What the hell's going on with "America"?

No, not like this: Allen Ginsberg's America. (Maybe it's not a great poem, but it's a killer rant.)

Rather, a number of my publishers insist on replacing "America/n" with "United States" or "U.S." In scholarly work, especially dealing with international relations, using the actual name of the country is more precise. The more obvious and underlying reason is an emotional one: people throughout the Western Hemisphere are "Americans," but they are not U.S. citizens. They were Americans before there was a United States, no?

I'm liking this approach more and more, although it's sometimes a pain to implement after the fact. But if authors did everything correctly to begin with, copyeditors could mostly fold their tents.

Now I'm trying to sneak in "United States/U.S." on manuscripts.

You do what you can. "No, but for that one starfish . . ." Oh, lord.

What I'd like to get a handle on, now that I have British punctuation all sorted out (see "British as a Second Language"), is what the hell's going on with "Britain"?

Great Britain
United Kingdom

Here's a lesson for you newcomers: One of the best things you can do as a copyeditor is admit your own ignorance and not be afraid to display it to others. Queries get it off your mind and put the responsibility on someone else.

(Frankly, as a copyeditor, proofreader, or indexer -- and this is beside the point entirely -- I'm not paid to do the author's research. If I happen to be sitting at the computer while I'm working on a bibliography, I'll check a publisher's city name or an incongruous date. But I'm not going to spend a bunch of time doing consistency-making based on Internet searches when the author presumably has access to originals.

I will, however, query all day long. Unless the author or publisher just seems ignant.

And I'm also not, as a copyeditor, going to check to see if all the websites mentioned in the manuscript are still live. FYI.)

So, does Britain = Great Britain = United Kingdom = England? I ask because many authors appear to think so. Are the terms entirely interchangeable? Does "Britain" or "Great Britain" ever = "England"? Always? Why or why not? Are dates tied to any of the different terms? And going with the "America" thing, are there cases when "United Kingdom" is used, but it includes people who don't want to be invited to the party? Does "British" = "English"?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's 5 a.m. Do You Know Where Your Productivity Is?

Yeah, well. What can I say?

I think Publisher's Weekly linked through to the following article, or maybe I saw it on Bloomberg. Doesn't matter. And, as is typically the case, I didn't read every last word. That's how it goes.

I have never downloaded an app, nor, as far as I know, do I own a device on which I could use one. Maybe I could get apps for this laptop PC. I have no idea. That shows pretty much how out of it I am. I'll give up my dumb phone when they pry it from the extensions of my cold, rapidly aging nervous system.

But I read enough of this article to know that it's good news for freelance editors. As is self-publishing. As is any mean, medium, or mode that gets people reading and writing and writing and reading more.

I've not read more than 200 words of a Harry Potter book, probably to a child years ago . . . and I fell asleep before he did. But I'm very happy that J.K. Rowling had people buying books like crazy.

And when she goes to adult fiction, it's not gonna be as crazy, but crazy still.

I met Barbara Kingsolver at a local event in town a few years ago and told her as much: I haven't read a word of what you've written, but boy am I glad people love what you write.

HBO logo, circa 1972
Say 35 years ago you wanted to get into working on sitcoms -- not acting, but tech stuff. Pretty limited outlets for doing so, right? Three networks. What do you have now? Scores of sitcoms on multiple cable channels that the world could do better without. That's not the point. Someone's editing that footage, handling props, doing lighting . . . makeup, gaffers, best boys, key grips, assistant assistant special boom operator UK crew, Japanese yutes to do the anime porn . . .

No, I've never seen any of that stuff either.

The point is that as much as people want to talk about the death of this and the last gasps of that, the form might change, but the function and the desire don't. I've maintained that I don't care if what I work on comes out in ebook format or on stone tablets.

And the more that people are interested in reading and writing, and published works, and sharing what they're reading about, and interested in finding out more about it . . . all this is good for the next generation of freelance editors. If you're in your twenties and you want to be a freelance editor, know that there's plenty of work out there. Your job in your twenties is to begin to find it. Don't be shy. And begin honing your skill.

And a lot of people want to tell their stories in what they consider to be permanent form. That's still a "book." For what it's worth, I still think the go-to item for posterity will be a printed book. Does a digital file really exude warmth? As Aunty said one time (paraphrasing and sans affect), "I bought a book from a used bookstore and saw someone else's little notes and margin jottings. They were delightful. Top that, Kindle."

Even if an app could match it, it wouldn't be the same. Anymore than anime porn is the same as . . . well, never mind.

My yob is to help people and publishers put the written word out there. And the more stuff to put out there, the better it is for the profession.

Oh, it's tax time, too? I need to oil my abacus.

Monday, April 9, 2012

This Just In: Footnote of the Day

Still a bachelor, with time to spend with his students outside the classroom, he was a popular teacher and even coached crew. In an enterprising but fruitless effort, he once tried to coach his crew from the air using a tiny airplane and a megaphone, but the engine noise drowned out his instructions. His imaginative failure drew some press attention.*


* “Airplane Coaching Fails,” Washington Post, November 7, 1919.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Words I’d Change in the Dictionary

Merriam-Webster's editorial board: Are you listening?

health care: I’ve been uselessly enforcing this one for too long. One word. Let’s get it over with. 

record keeping: No way should this be two words. I could handle record-keeping. Even better: recordkeeping. See also child rearing; decision making; etc.

work site: already in the dictionary: workbag, workbasket, workboat, workbook, workbox, workday, workforce
            but work camp, work farm. OK, so I see the pattern, but I don’t see that it makes sense.

There are others. Many, many more.


Danny boy

Monday, April 2, 2012

Quickie Quote

Alfonso starts laughing before he even begins to tell this story. Back in the 1970s, when lunch hour sometimes included a meal and some alcoholic refreshments, an employee named Jimmy Erwin was supposed to meet an inspector at a job site. According to Alfonso—who went up through the ranks as a laborer, truck driver, foreman, and superintendent—Jimmy decided to stop at a bar across the street for lunch and proceeded to have a beer or two. His plan was always to walk back across the street to meet the inspector, but needless to say, Jimmy lost track of time. When the inspector showed up, he didn’t see Jimmy but he saw his truck parked at the bar. So he waited another twenty minutes. Finally, Jimmy came out of the bar, saw the inspector, and walked right over to him, never skipping a single beat, and yelling, “Don’t EVER order pizza in that place!”
—Margaret Kirk [names changed from original]