Saturday, 10 December 2016

Goodnight Mr Chips

I have just completed a 16 hour straight proofreading session, and my eyes are bleeding.

I thought my contract was over, so I was settling down to do my own thing. Then I got offered one more gig and I couldn't resist. You see, I look at a ringbound tome and I see a paid-up flight to visit family next year.

It's very hard to say no to that, even when you know what's involved. 

The thing is, a flight to the UK takes about thirteen hours. A book like this one takes about four days. I was going to amble through it at a leisurely pace, but I forgot I'd agreed to go away with friends this weekend and the deadline is Monday. That left me a day and a half to scan copy, and two days to finish the markup sheets. 

Scanning copy is pretty easy. You just take a biro and go through the pages circling errors and popping notes in the margin. The problem for me is that my handwriting is so bad that I usually can't read those notes when I come back to them.

The markup sheet is just a table saying which page the problem is on and what you spotted (and, if you have time, how to fix it).

Some of the books are pretty good, maybe one or two corrections per page. Others are brutal. One waded in at over 15,000 words of corrections and close to fifty pages. That's pretty much a novella. I could easily make my NaNoWriMo count writing markups.

Another problem is that you swiftly become a nocturnal beast, working late into the night. Housework and personal hygiene start to suffer, fuelled by a diet of coffee and junk food. It's a bit like being a student again.

I was desperate to finish today so that I can enjoy my weekend away and ease into the holiday season. For this reason, I crawled out of bed at 7 a.m., straight into the shower, briefly brushing against the kettle to turn it on. 

For the past two days the only thing that has sustained me is our local Mr Chips, who not only deliver sterling fish burgers (light, crispy batter) - but also beer! I have honestly sat at this desk typing markups for the past 16 hours, and without Mr Chips, I may have expired entirely.

Still. I've done it. Dropping the book off tomorrow on my way out of town. Looking forward to cashing in that ticket in the New Year. Very honoured to have been a part of a proofing project that will hopefully benefit students in the future, and part of a team who work so hard to make that happen. 

I shall leave you with a picture of Sophie's contribution to the cause... I think that might be integer subtraction she's sitting on.

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