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, January 5, 2009

Naked Lunch and magazine proofreading

The inspiration for this post comes from bloggoddess Moi, who commented on my previous missive:

Shouldn't the publisher be running this stuff by oh, I dunno, an in-house EDITOR, before it reaches your hands? Or are you, in the majority of cases, "it" so to speak? Which means, you're the only person standing between literacy and complete and total madness?

Back in the mid-1990s I had one of my all-time favorite gigs. Once a month, I would make the 60-mile drive from Atlanta to Athens to proofread Georgia Trend magazine. Georgia Trend, which I'd worked for under two or three different sets of owners and editors, was at the time in the hands of Mr. Millard Grimes, a venerable Georgia and Alabama newspaper owner/publisher who had retired into the magazine business, and who actually bought Georgia Trend twice. Going back to an earlier post, this was one of the four competing Atlanta business newspapers/magazines that I was freelancing for simultaneously -- all with the knowledge of the others. Fun stuff.

Why was this a great gig? Because of the presence of a guy who remains a friend of mine, even though I only see him once every six or so years at this point. Sitting together in a room and proofreading an entire magazine every month in about a 10-hour period forged an interesting relationship.

TB and I would settle in at about 9am in a large office in the presence of the ad person, the typographer, maybe an editorial assistant. Mr. Grimes was in another part of the office suite in case we came up against something we couldn't scratch our heads long enough to figure out.

TB was a journalist of some fairly long standing in and around Atlanta (great wit, great golfer, treated me to a round at East Lake Country Club [home of the PGA Championship] when it was just in the beginning of its turnaround period). He's still a member at East Lake, against all odds, because by now they've run most of the riff-raff out of there (people like freelance journalists), and it's just corporate central now. I remember TB driving up one year to my friends' annual golf outing and seeing his muffler bound to his car with a coat hanger and thinking, "I'll bet this is welcomed warmly in the East Lake parking lot."

Anyway, in an office with three or four disinterested women in it, TB and I would amuse ourselves with our sparkling wit and sarcasm while we were reading that month's book. I'm certain that the women thought we were drop-dead idiots. But we had a great time cutting up . . . until about 1:30 or so, when we realized we'd laughed half the day away, and we still had 70-something pages to go . . . and had to check the corrections as well, and there was more coming in.

Then we hit upon our time-saving methodology that I wish I could employ more frequently in the Land on Demand bunker. Taken from a line in William Burroughs's Naked Lunch, "As one judge said to the other, 'Be just. And if you can't be just, be arbitrary,'" TB and I decided that before lunch we would be just. After lunch, we would be arbitrary.

I'm not sure we ever put this into practice as much as we would have liked. We were, after all, both consummate professionals (albeit mighty smug ones). But for 10 hours of laughter, there was rarely a better stretch of time than my monthly stint in Athens. I think some of the women even occasionally found us amusing. But nowhere near as much as we would laugh along with each other.

I saw TB earlier this year at the annual golf thing. It was about 7:30 in the morning, and he'd just gotten back from running. I looked at him like he had three heads. He said, "I haven't missed a day." In how long? "Eleven years. I started after the first year I met you guys [my friends] and haven't stopped."

TB, known among my pals as "Hack" -- like all good nicknames, one that works on many levels -- is one of my favorite folks in the world, and I wish I'd see him more often.

Not long after I left, Mr. Grimes sold Georgia Trend and Hack was eventually gone. The world of Georgia journalism suffered. But he still writes, I believe, for a number of publications in Atlanta. If you ever see him around the newspaper offices or an Atlanta Press Club meeting, tell him Czar says "Hi."


moi said...

I laughed out loud at this post. I think it's my fave of yours so far. And, dang. I can't believe the people you know and the things you've done. Gatekeeper, indeed.

czar said...

Strange what people like. This seemed like a tossed-off piece, an homage breaking up too much negative commentary. But it does include some of your favorite themes: golf, running, cutting up with friends, putting out monthly rags (well, maybe that's more a necessary evil). A friend saw TB running and said that he moves at a snail's pace, but hell, running at a snail's pace for 11 years is a lot better than anything I've been doing. And when it comes to the things I've done in the name of proofing, copyediting, and indexing, honey chile, I've probably forgotten more good stories than I know.

Besides being a member at East Lake, when I first met TB and for long after, he used to do his jogs around a municipal 9-hole course in Atlanta, picking up balls along the way. It was the kind of course where people learn to play (although it had its regulars as well). I don't think he's paid for a golf ball in the last 20 years. For all I know, now he runs around East Lake, picking up all the four-dollar balls that the members are too lazy to bend over to find. Actually, East Lake requires caddies, but not after 4pm, which is the only time Hack will play -- because he refuses to take a caddy.