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.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Too Much to Do

Christmas Eve day, and miles to go.

New Dorp Lane, Staten Island, NY;
except for the cars, 
the view hasn't changed in at least 50 years.

Shopping is basically done, although I have to brave the grocery store sometime this morning for tomorrow's feast. Per popular acclamation at chez czar, we're giving the czarina the day off from heavy cooking and doing a far simpler low country boil just for the family. It's the kind of thing we typically only make when there's twenty or so people around, so I'm going to halve the recipe. We'll throw some newspapers on the table and make believe it's summertime. And no dishes to wash.


Many interesting projects lately, and I wish I was wrapping up one of them this morning instead of what I'm working on: an index that seems not to want to go away. I've started placing the PDF and the Word doc side by side on the screen rather than looking at paper. Every second counts. Maybe I'll become the Frederick Taylor of the editorial world. Now if I could just keep my fingers out of my mouth while editing or proofreading and keep that red pen close to the paper.


When our younger son came home from college last week, I asked him if he'd signed up for any shifts at a local drive-thru he'd been working at for some years. He said no, but I knew that he needed some holiday funds (and I had become used to the intern labor), so I asked him if he wanted to do some word processing for me. I had about nine hundred pages of manuscripts that needed editorial changes keyed in. He did an OK job, but his reactions to the work were interesting. On job one, he pondered, "There wouldn't be so much to do if authors just followed the right style to begin with." On job two, he asked, "How hard is it for them to get the reference style right?" Out of the mouths of nineteen-year-old babes . . .


When Colleen (former intern) returns for winter/spring semester, I'll be talking to her about paid work for keying in changes. In the right circumstances, it saves me enough time and is worth the money to have someone input corrections to a Word document. We were speaking about this as a family last week, and we chuckled that, unfortunately, the czarina is not the person to help me in this area -- for a number of reasons. As I put it quite simply to the czarina's laughter, "You won't do what I want you to do when I want you to do it." Working for me is probably only slightly worse than being married to me.


The two books that my younger son slaved through were both rather interesting. One was a first-person account of a South Vietnamese army/government official's experiences from the mid-1940s until his escape in the early 1980s after imprisonment by the new regime, although the author began in the Viet Minh. The author knew John Paul Vann and Daniel Ellsberg and people like that from the mid-1950s on. Having come to consciousness during the height of the Vietnam War, I found the information on French and US involvement in SE Asia, and especially the internal Vietnamese happenings, fascinating.

[Great note on this book. As the coauthor, who is my primary contact, told me, "The [Vietnamese] author is 88 and not in great health. We're hoping he holds on until the book is published." So sweet. The book has been in various stages of writing for 24 years. The coauthor, who is concerned about his colleague's age and health, is 85.]

The second book was about the Fed's operations during the credit crisis of 2008. The editor was almost apologetic when sending the book out. "It's about economics, and many copyeditors don't like books with a lot of numbers." After explaining that I used to be the lead editor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, he was relieved and I suspect a little surprised. I suspect, also, that I'll now have an inside track on copyediting any books dealing with banking or economics coming from this press. Fine by me. They pay fast.

What I didn't mention was that I'd probably still be at that job if my boss wasn't one of the most despicable human beings I've ever met in my life. Her name was . . . oh, it's Christmas. Never mind.


I've had a few other things going on, it seems, but I have to finish this index NOW. Then to the store(s), then wrapping presents, then back to work on an intense little proofing job that must go out on Monday. At least it's not indexing.


The photo above comes from my hometown. Staten Island is part of New York City yet a world of its own. When the czarina was first there in 1985 and we went down New Dorp Lane, she said, "This reminds me of small towns in the South," the point being, "I had no idea that the evil urban Northeast full of you Yankees and Jews was actually like the rest of the world." Staten Island, when it's not acting more like Alabama, can be a very nice place.


Happy holidays, folks. Glad you're out there.


DeepBlue said...

A merry jolly Christmas to you and your beloved czarina. May the new year brings enlightening and delightful encounters and experiences. (mmmm... two adjectives with the word "light" in them.... too redundant!)

czar said...

Jon: Thanks for coming by, and a merry Christmas to you and yours as well. And don't worry about redundancy. I'm entirely off the clock on blogs. I'm the one who badly needs an editor, but they are such pains in the ass.

chickory said...

a beautiful photo - old school decorations that I love. Merry Christmas...your projects do sound interesting. Husbands and wives often do not work well together. I am recalling the time I filled in as V's secretary during hard times....not ideal. no, not at all.

Low country boil!! thats a great way to deal with the epic stress fest that is Christmas dinner. Im not that lucky.

Happy New Year too. know that tomorrow? I will be hitting the rock pile too.

czar said...

Chickory: I'm already on the rockpile here, but tomorrow I get to collect on one of my Christmas presents: a promise from my sons to help me empty out my office. I'm going to try to make the dungeon somewhat less oppressive. As Ignatius Reilly said, "A new cart, a new start."

Jean said...

Hope your dinner and the whole day was delightful.

Aunty Belle said...

This is the moist verbose Czar post ever--I might be a little stunned.

Good fer y'all-Czarina gits a break--an' low country boil is plum fittin' any time.

Why does ya take on so much obligation when the calendar plainly says it will be Christmas again in December? I can wag mah finger on this point cause only THIS YEAR has I finally told editors that, NO, I cannot git ya' a 3k word piece (wif' hours an' hours of research)anytime a'tween Dec 15 and Jan 5. Solly.

Book one --well, Vietnam doan snag mah mind--Did read Gift of Rain this year so I'se had enough SE Asia fer a spell.

But book two? on the Feds & $$, I'de read that. an' i ain't remotely a numbers person.

As fer authors an' the style manuals--son is right. Sorry to the free wheelin' freelancers, but at some point ya adopt a professionalism.

I admits bein' slack on this mahself in a vague attempt to make a statement more the way it would come out of the mouth of the subject, but, when it ain't fiction, that idea is wrong
( unless it's a direct quote of course) for the reader--or so a wise ed once informed me.

I'se appreciative of yore work --cannot oversate mah shock at how many poorly written books is hurried to print these days--is they skippin' past the copy editors? or is CE's not well trained no mroe? or machines doin' it? What gives?

Jes' got a book from UK, published in Sept. The mistakes are two to a page AT LEAST. The topic is history--not fluff. Yikes!! Unbelievable how many errors.

Is there a change in philosophy? I wonder if the On Demand publication wave means they can fix the mistakes at many points along the chain of its shelf life?

I give up--what's the reason fer so many mistakes? (blogs do not count--amen?)

Dungeon less oppressive? Heh--you'd faint iffin' ya opened the door to mine-- I might have to burn it down an' start over. I jes' cain't seem to grasp that all this paper, all these ancient files of stuff erased from the internet won't be gold some day.

Yakkity yak--fergit all that--hope your Christmas was merry an' bright.

(wait!--lookin' at the time stamps on the comments--all y'all was on yore computers on Christmas morning?? Didn't anybody have a stockin' to check out?)

Aunty Belle said...

moist verbose? what IS that? spit all over the words?

Groan...see? good thang no editors fer blogs--sorry: most verbose.

an' more, not mroe. Gah!

moi said...

"There wouldn't be so much to do if authors just followed the right style to begin with." On job two, he asked, "How hard is it for them to get the reference style right?"


Whenever I bitch about a job, I also tell myself, "Well, at least it's not indexing." :o)

Did you get the dungeon cleaned?

czar said...

@Jean: Except for the czarina having to bail at the last minute before Christmas dinner, the day was very pleasant. She and I have been trading ailments lately.

@Aunty: First, don't worry about any misspellings 'n' such in yore Crackerspeak. I just attribute it to the nature of the communication. "Moist verbose" . . . I have no idea what it means, but I'll have to work it into a haiku.

My work schedule during Christmas is the same as any other, mostly because my legions of creditors and other obligators have not yet, in their wisdom, decided to create a Jubilee month for December. Give this some thought in your writings, Aunty. I've been considering it. What if no mortgages, credit card debts, auto loans, student loans, etc. were collected in December? The interest would just accrue another month, and how much more money would be plowed into the economy? Might interrupt the whole monetary flow? Well, can't have everything.

That and corporate-branded legislation are my two great ideas for 2011.

I never mind a little license to make a speaker sound right or better. The news services have become very crafty at who they quote just so, and who they don't. From years of proofing the czarina's transcripts when she was a court reporter, I am well aware of what the written word can do to a person's speech and subsequent image.

On why books don't appear to be copyedited these days, well, the presses I work for all seem to put some value in it. (See client list.) Now, whether one copyeditor is as good as another, or what proofreaders might decide to do or not do, or what weird glitches take place in all the newest page layout software that might thrown random characters in a line for no reason (yes, in InDesign) . . . there are so many places in which things can go wrong. And I guarantee that with any book I've proofed, edited, or indexed, I can find an error for you within five minutes of receiving the book, and often a lot faster than that. It just happens. And it's also why I shudder when I receive copyediting credit on any book. Too many hands have touched it since I last saw it for it to still represent my work.

But if the errors bother you, whether there are two per page or two per chapter, that's a problem for the publisher.

@Moi: On the dungeon, no, not yet. But that's mainly because the best day to do it -- December 26 -- I was asleep for something like 22 hours. That doesn't happen too often. I gave into it, and damn the consequences.

moi said...

In-Design sucks. My kingdom, for PageMaker's resurrection.

Aunty Belle said...

Thx fer pass on misspellin's--Cracker -Speak do cover a whalle of lot of glitches.

On copy editin' mistakes in books--I knows it happens, mah lament is how OFTEN it's happenin' these days.

Puleeeeeze doan clean yore dungeon yet--I needs the company-- cain't face mine at the moment, but before January be flipped on the calendar, I must.

Fleurdeleo said...

Very entertaining, Csar! You may be in a car now, but when you read this, please accept my loving wishes for an amazing 2012: and by amazing, I mean good health, good spirits, no icy roads, several financial windfalls that allow you to buy luxury items and a nice family cruise somewhere, and, of course, several wins at Haiku Monday.

PS for Christmas I got three books: new bio of Jane Fonda, new bio of Marlon Brando and the joint Kardashian girls' novel--which I left on my sister's coffee table unread. Just because I adored "Loni Anderson: My Life in High Heels" doesn't mean I have no standards.

czar said...

@Aunty: My dungeon, as of Jan. 1, 2012, 9:50 pm, remains untouched. If anything it's worse. I've started using another room in the house to read in, away from the computer and the phone. That room has only grown worse since I started using it. Seems to have become a post-Christmas dumping ground. I'm sure Gethsemani would provide better working conditions.

Unlike you, I'm not surrounded by things I feel the need to keep. Just move elsewhere or throw out -- all of it, except for office supplies, computer etc., and style manuals. And the family got me a Vinyl-to-CD converter (and basic record player with built-in speakers) that I'll set up here, too. Then start dragging out the old albums and capturing some of them for the younger generation . . . and the car.

On the errors in books, why are there more now than before? About the only other thing I can say is that here in the dungeon, we spend every day doing our best to make Aunty Belle happy.

@Fleur: Thanks. Luxury items? I haven't changed that much.


Thought of you today as we were driving by the Hyatt Ravinia, and I asked the czarina if she'd ever been able to track down Louise V. Negative. And we'd just finished having brunch with the czarina's friend Gloria, who also shared duties with you at the wedding. The czarina and I spent our wedding night at said Ravinia. Louise set us up with some high-rent suite, courtesy of the hotel.

Jane Fonda: Does the book get into her art collection and her association with Bill Arnett? It would be a blip, I'm sure.

The New Yorker had a great article on Brando a few years back. Too good, too fast. I would have loved to have seen him onstage in the late 40s. Let me know what the book says about his relationship with Wally Cox, whose ashes were found among his effects. He once referred to Wally Cox, his old roommate, as having the soul of an axe murderer. I've always loved that.

I'm happy that the Kardashian girls are literate, or I hope that they paid the ghostwriter handsomely. I've heard their names, but if they walked in here right now, I'd have no idea who they were. But if they needed some editing done, I guess I could help them out.

On Loni Anderson, I'd much rather read Fleur: My Life in Pearls.

czar said...

@Moi: Oops. Sorry.

I need to do some posts on book design and designers from my uneducated perspective. Book designers (formerly called typesetters) and I are like two-year-olds playing next to each other. We don't always work together directly, but I sure get to hear a lot of crying and whining -- often about the software.

Fleurdeleo said...

Csar, you are such a gallant! My Life in Pearls would be an excellent title!

No mention of Bill or Ms. Fonda's art collection. Lots of talk about her perfect body and hankering after cold, powerful men.

I'll research the Brando book for you. Not too long ago, I read the most scurrilous biography ever: "Paul Newman: The Man Behind the Baby Blues." The author claimed that Paul was a raging homosexual who got it on with every man in Hollywood except Robert Redford and Tom Cruise--including Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando. It was so unbelievable that I was moved to write an unfavorable review on Amazon. We'll see if Marlon's bio confirms this!

czar said...

@Fleur: It is a good title. Right up there with my brother's pending autobiography, The History of Proofreading, Part 1.

I am not powerful -- and I don't think cold -- but if La Jane had a hankering for bringing her perfect body next to my less-than-perfect one, I'd be more than agreeable. I think I could get a pass from the czarina.

Fleur warns the Amazon universe. I'll have to look that up.

Fleurdeleo said...

True, Csar...you are not Jane's normal type. But she does spend a lot of time on ranches, and you have kind of an outdoorsy mountain man vibe with that beard.