9/3/09

The Unbearable Lightness of Proofreading

Not much blogging lately, partly because school has started, but also because I'm frantically proofreading and fact-checking my book. My head is filled with issues like whether it's "buses" or "busses" and "canvases" or "canvasses"...and the always thorny question of "Sacks's view" (going with The New York Times) or "Sacks' view" (going with how people speak).

I'd take this task lightly, except for the fact that I don't like finding typographical errors in a book. It says "author doesn't care." Plus, a couple of books in recent memory have been slammed by reviewers for factual errors. Not me...please!!!

So on and on it goes. With not much for entertainment except compulsively keeping track of my score over at 3 Quarks Daily. It seems my mother likes my blogging, I'm shamelessly partial to my own writing, and I have two fans. Sniff. Now about everybody else's entries (not even one of which I've read all the way through). Do these folks know what blogs are for? They're for getting in the mood to work, or taking a break from work. They. Shouldn't. Be. Work.

But that's OK...it's only money. Typos in the last sentence were deliberate. It. Was. For. Emphasis.

14 comments:

amos wallerstein said...

You probably know this already, but I recall from my days working in a small, alternative magazine that no one proof-reads well his or her own writing, so that another member of the magazine staff always proof-read one's contribution. It's more a blindness thing than a bias thing: people have a tendency to overlook their own errors, especially small errors, like typos. It may be due to the fact that proof-reading one's own writing is incredibly boring, while curiosity (and the desire to find fault) motivate one to proof-read the writings of the other with greater enthusiasm.

Tom said...

But don't you just hate to read your own writing? I figure that's universal. Wait, maybe it's just that I hate to read my own writing because everybody else hates to read my writing too? Well, I guess that's still a kind of universality.

Good luck with the editing.

amos wallerstein said...

Proof-reading is like post coitus or is it post coitum? It's already over (the writing) and you don't want to see it again. However, if you read it again in five years, you'll be amazed that you could have written such brillant insights at such a young age, before reaching your current stage of wisdom. As Tom says, good luck with the editing.

Jean Kazez said...

I'm not going to say whether I hate reading my own writing. If I do, then why should anyone else read it? If I don't, then I must be very vain.

Now about that last analogy...

But anyway. Thanks for the good wishes. I know what you mean (amos) about the second pair of eyes. I keep telling my husband he would enjoy proofreading my book, but he seems to disagree. He already earned his merit badge for reading a draft.

ben nelson said...

Strunk & White recommended the redundant s in the possessive form of the proper noun, but I've generally noticed that just about nobody ever abides by this rule. Written words have a way of tilting towards speech. And anyway, who really needs that extra s? What's it trying to prove, dangling there?

But then again again, I have no grammatical principles whatsoever. For example, I use the term "whatsoever" instead of the term "whatever", even though "whatsoever" is a trainwreck of a compound, while "whatever" gets the meaning across in a tight and tidy way (though sounds more pompous and dismissive).

In conclusion, grammar is full of contrasts, etc.

Jean Kazez said...

As far as I'm concerned, the double s in the possessive is just to prove that you read the New York Times. That proves how smart you are.

Really, "whatsoever" is bad? That never occurred to me.

Y'all are doing a great job of distracting me. (Y'all proves not that I'm unsmart, but that I'm folksy and unpretentious, by the way. :-) )

Tom said...

Yeah, Jean, but the fact that you spell "y'all" as you do, rather than "ya'll" just shows how pretentious you are.

Jean Kazez said...

Uh-oh. I've been unmasked.

Faust said...

Grammer is plastic--nothing but convention. Of course convention is important, even when it concerns tastless crackers distributed in supernaturalist ceremonies. Oh yeah. I went there.

Going to check your blog submission entry when I have time to actually write more than off the cuff snarky quips during 5 min breaks from my project sprint.

Jean Kazez said...

Ha. Where would we be without snark? If I hadn't shamelessly voted for myself, I'd look it all over more carefully. I'm just puzzled (watch out: snark alert) by the immense popularity of Heidegger as blog material. What's with that?

Faust said...

Heidegger is "awesome" for the following reasons:

God without God (aka "Being")

Open to interpretation due to being difficult to understand. Interpretability means you can go off on wild riffs.

Secret nihilistc edge if you know where to look for it. Kids love it!

Personally I just ignore him. If you are a Kierkegaard lover like me Heidegger is basically superfluous. That's my position and I'm sticking to it.

Ophelia Benson said...

"Plus, a couple of books in recent memory have been slammed by reviewers for factual errors. Not me...please!!!"

Yeah like mine for instance! All the worse because it's a co-authored book and the mistake was mine - so I dragged my co-author down with me. Arggghhhh.

(The trouble with the kind of mistake I made is that it's not a typo-type mistake - it's not a mistake that shows - so you don't spot it - nobody spots it - until a reviewer spots it. So it's not easy to proofread for, to say the least!)

Jean Kazez said...

Well, but when you co-author a book don't you become...Bengroom, or some such? But it's very good of you to take responsibility. In the other case I'm thinking of, apparently there were quite a few errors, and, mirabile dictu, the author blamed the copy-editor! What scares me is that I HAVE found a few errors. So how do I know I wouldn't find more if I checked another 10 times? Agggh! Too late now...it's in the mail. Hurray!

amos wallerstein said...

I remember your mistake, Ophelia, and I still insist that the reviewer who spotted it, didn't spot it, but had a fact-checker who went over your book with a microscope looking for errors and that said fact-checker was paid by the Templeton Foundation (the Templeton Foundation being a metaphor for a certain worldview).