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.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fault is all mine

Sometimes I'm just too smart for my own good.

I'm working on this nutbuster of an editing job. Very difficult subject matter and a complex manuscript, but at least it's not an index. The writing is fine, but the manuscript is about one-third notes and bibliography. Out of a 450-page m/s, 300 pages are text; the rest is documentation. Yuck.

So it's taking me forever to plow through this thing because of having to stop and check the notes and check them against the bibliography, and the days are ticking away . . . days when I should be moving on to something else.

Bright idea: just read the text, then go back and do the notes and bibliography.

This particular publisher, which seems only to send me nearly impossible projects (I'm getting tired of it), has given me a new press style sheet for each of the last three jobs. This is also an incredible pain, because minor things change from one to the next . . . not that I can keep up with the style desires of my stable of publishers anyway, but eventually when I'm into a project I remember the quirks. Called out for particular importance on this new style sheet is that it's very important that scriptural citations match the NRSV, because the publisher has a rights arrangement with them . . . unless the author explains otherwise or cites the different translation.

OK. Fine. So in the chapter where I decide to forgo the notes, all of a sudden there are many more scriptural citations than before. So I dutifully begin checking against NRSV, and probably spend three hours making changes word-by-word, changes that really don't matter much to the translation and that have no effect on the subsequent narrative. This is nothing new. Authors often use a translation that the press doesn't want used, and it falls to the copyeditor to make the changes.

So, what's the problem? I finish the text quickly, then turn to the notes. Note number 16: "Biblical translations are the author's," which means he's gone back to the Greek and Hebrew and done his own translation, which is perfectly legit and doesn't need to be altered.

I've wasted three hours changing the text, and then I spent literally an hour and a half with a Pink Pearl eraser removing my acres of pencil markings.

Who do I blame for all this? Who else can I blame? All my fault. How could I have avoided this? I should have checked the note accompanying the first biblical excerpt to see if there was an explanation. Woulda shoulda coulda. You can add to "editor indexer proofreader" occasional dumbass.

And now I'm so tired of the project that it's hard to get back to it. I've got about 60 pages of notes and the accompanying 30 pages of bibliography to go through, and then some searches that won't take long, but the notes and bibliography itself I'll be lucky if I can get through at 5 pages an hour. In my business and with my self-imposed demands, not only is that frustrating, but it's essentially a money-losing proposition.

But it's gotta get done. I suspect I have some clients who are wondering why the last year seems to have degenerated into one creative excuse after another. While they keep coming back, it's beginning to wear on me a little. Although the folks on the receiving end, I feel, probably operate somewhat the same way I do. If they want something back from me on x date, they probably get around to it on x date plus 3 days. But their job is to keep things moving, as is mine. That's the theory anyway.

And when things don't move quickly enough, I tend to get testy.

Some days . . . I'd really like to chuck it all. As much theology as I read, I don't really have a theology of my own. But in some vague way, I don't think this life is all there is . . . so the fact that I've given up some hope on much changing about the way I operate in this go-round is mitigated by the fact that things might be different if and when I'm given another chance. But this is all a topic for a different blog: the antitheology of the theology editor. I was once asked by a pastor friend of mine what type of immunity I had that I could read this stuff day after day, year after year, and it didn't affect me -- that is, cause me to become religious, specifically Christian. I used to say that I could accept the New Testament, but I'd have to first accept the Old Testament. Now, quite frankly, it's one of the topics that really doesn't matter to me whatsoever. A friend a few weeks back recommended prayer to me . . . a specific type of prayer done at a specific time. I took him up on it for a few weeks. Ended up doubled over in pain and panic. Not that there's a cause and effect, but maybe it's just another thing that I managed to screw up.

Damn. If you've gotten here, you deserve a prize. So, here you go. I'd like to be able to dance like this guy for just one second. My dancing style makes Al Gore look loosey-goosey.


1 comment:

moi said...

Tom Jones with Janis Joplin was one of the most sublime moments in all of pop music.

I for one hold out eternal hope for heaven because I have a list, a list I tell you, of all the things I want once I get there.