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Proofing a Manuscript
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I received an enormous package yesterday. It was a manuscript that I had agreed to proofread for a first time author. I can read books on my kindle and even on my computer, but for proofing I need the paper in my hands.

I feel a sense of awe. This author has written a book--the child of his imagination and skill--and has entrusted it to my care and nurturing. To me, it's a huge responsibility. It's like being entrusted with his first born child.

This is not the first time I've read a manuscript before it has been published--heaven only knows how much I read of professional publications before they went to press when I was working. When word got around, I was getting stuff to check from outside my department, even from headquarters. Egad. Like I didn't have a full time job already.

And I have proofed fiction manuscripts for friends as well.

It's a pleasure to read an interesting, well-written book, errors and all. Errors are easy for an editor to fix; the hard part is the writer's conceptualization and then putting the words together to express the idea. As I said, I'm in awe of anybody who can do that.

I recently read the MS of a first time author who is in his eighties. Quite a credible job, too. He said that he always knew he could do it, and he wanted at least one book with his name on it before he died.

One of the difficulties is communicating with the author which items must be changed, because they are wrong or are out of place; which items "clunked" and didn't sound right to my ear but the author is free to substitute or not; and where the story arc may have gone astray in some way.

I have decided to circle the errors; the suggestions for improvement are just written in or crossed out, without being circled.

Well, enough rumenating. Time for my coffee and me to return to reading, enjoying, and correcting.

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