Thursday, May 17, 2007

Page Proof Perfect

Posted by Lynne

Deciding what is and what isn,t negotiable along with making expectations clear is the very heart of parenting. The child who doesn't learn to respect that which is not negotiable will have great difficulty behaving; first, perhaps just at home, later in the neighborhood and in the community. I can give you this guarantee: The more you shy away from creatiing clear boundaries, the more discipline issues you will face.


Typos. Errors. Mistakes. Above is an excerpt from the page proofs of my book, Negotiation Generation. I've spent the last several days reading my book word for word, comma to comma. And guess what? There are still inconsistencies in the appearance of words like non-negotiable (we settled on nonnegotiable) and skill building (we settled on skill-building). There are still sentences that stop me cold to ask, "Huh?" And this is after countless people have read it, including me. I won't even wager a guess as to how many times I've read this baby of mine.

Over coffee yesterday, I told my husband my fear. No matter how many times I go through it, I might miss a typo. The first email I get from a reader will say, "Nice book, did you know there's a mistake on page 78?"

My wise and supportive husband told me to think of my book as if it were a Persian rug. Made by hand, each rug is perfectly imperfect, precisely imprecise. Even if a rug is made and it appears perfect, the weaver takes his or her time to create a slight inconsistency or irregularity within it. These artists, in deference to God, believe only He can create something perfect. They have no desire to compete with Him, as they share the gifts He's given them.

Whether I'm writing non-fiction parenting books or working on my novel, I strive to write well. I believe in the mantra, submit only your best work to agents and editors. In writing, as is the case with all art, there is no place for perfection. It doesn't exist. It is in the imperfections of a painting or the dissonance of a song where humanity is found. And I believe strongly that when it comes to child rearing, there is no perfect child, no perfect parent.

So when you pick up a copy of my book, should you choose to scour the text, I'm certain you will find a mistake or two. You'll be left to wonder, did I place them there intentionally or is that where you found my humanity.

10 comments:

kristen said...

Wise husband, indeed.

After reading this, I will no longer be one of those annoying people who point out the crazy typos in the books they read. I will have a greater understanding and compassion for the process.

The Writers' Group said...

Kristen,

My daughter and I used to get a kick out of finding the typos in books, too. Now that I'm on the other side, I will see them in an entirely different way. Ah, perspective is a glorious thing.

Lynne

Larramie said...

Allison Winn Scotch -- whose novel, The Department of Lost and Found, debuted last week -- admitted that one of the lessons learned in being published is that errors are a given. No matter what, that's just the way it is.

And, for some reason, I like the idea of knowing that not even publishers are perfect.

Therese said...

Lynne, I've just finished proofreading too. And yep, errors are a given. Most of what I found (this is my UK edition) are, I believe, transcription errors when the book was keyed (and I'll bet that's how many if not most occur, generally speaking).

As for the occasional unpoetic sentence or blocky paragraph...mea culpa. But of some 116,000 words, I got the preponderance of them right. :)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh--the hyphens. They want dining-room table. I say, there's no hyphen in dining room table.
Crew-neck sweater? I say, no, there's no hyphen in that. U. S. Attorney. Is "attorney" capitalized? I can't even discuss it anymore. And how do you handle "silver-dollar sized watch"? They wanted "silver dollar-sized watch." I changed it. Now it's just "silver watch." I can see it, either way.

And yet, and yet. When my author's copies arrived last week, I was so thrilled, I stayed up waaaay too late, til 4 am, let's say, and read the whole thing. Being a reader. Looking for typos. (If you find any, let me know.) I was too happy. And as it turned out, I loved every hyphen.

Lynne Griffin said...

Well, if Therese and Hank can have errant hyphens or blocky paragraphs then I am in good company indeed. Thanks, ladies. I look forward to reading every single word of your books.

Lynne

Rita said...

I just got an advance copy of my novel and, sure enough, there is a missing period on one page, a typo on another. Seven different proofreaders, one editor, and Lord knows how many dozens of times I pored over the copy....And, yup! I know there will be those folks who can't wait to point them out to me!
Thank you for giving me a few ideas on how to (or how not to) respond!

The Writers' Group said...

Rita,

If we have to choose between a published book with a typo or no published book at all--we both know which we would choose! Best of luck with your book. Send us an email to announce it, won't you?

Lynne

Suelick said...

My book just came out and I'm up to 14 definite typos and some things that are debatable. So far, readers claim it doesn't bother them. It bugs me. I want to ask the publisher who proofed this book. His cat?
I hate typos, especially in books, but I do like the comparison to the Persian rug with its built-in flaws.
Sue

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