I get over excited when a message from CreateSpace arrives. But the return of my first round of editing four days before Christmas wasn’t the best timing. I know what I should have done; I should have put the project on hold for a week. I had numerous family expecting turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas day, and more people arriving on the 26th. I had enough on my plate (please excuse the pun.)
I couldn’t leave it alone. It’s an obsessive-compulsive thing (character flaw number…don’t know, I’ve lost count!)
A sea of red and blue and green corrections and comments. Glimpsed briefly, before Word decided it simply couldn’t cope with the volume of changes incorporated into the document and the programme froze on me. “Word is not responding.” Uh oh. I spent three days on Microsoft forums; asking questions, searching FAQs. I Googled my scenario in variously worded forms. I emailed everyone I knew who might be able to help, and drew comfort from the fact that I clearly wasn’t alone with the problem. A lot of people struggling but not many solutions I could even attempt, because the document wouldn’t load sufficiently for me to ‘copy and paste’ or ‘change view to draft’.
Finally a response from a very nice man on the Microsoft community forum, suggested I remove the ‘final paragraph mark.’
“The what?” I hear you cry. (That was what I was crying anyway). I still don’t know what the ‘final paragraph mark’ is, maybe you do? In an effort to locate it I managed to keep the document visible for long enough to find the end of the manuscript (don’t touch anything you don’t have to… exercise extreme patience after every scroll down.) I made several cups of tea while Word stopped responding. I figured the programme needed some time to think about its actions, and behave appropriately. I did the final correction first, in the hopes that would remove a ‘final paragraph mark’. And, lo, it didn’t freeze.
Two hundred and fifty pages of tracked change edits to reject or approve. Plus the amendments my friends had pointed out. By Christmas Eve I had only reached the second paragraph, and I was still leaving the room to do a few jobs after every click on the mouse while the computer hummed and chewed and whirred and made up its mind whether to freeze or not. Technology eh? Couldn’t live without it.
On a positive note, Word grew more confident as I progressed through the pages. I had shot myself in the foot by not pointing out that the spelling should be British English. (The editor had asked for a note on the rules for the edit, but somehow that point escaped me). A lot of z’s to reject, and o’s to put back in. Some phrases that might be misinterpreted by American readers: “Bloody hard work” could read as “working until she bled” and “who could she ponce a horse off by Saturday” oh yes, I get that one.
I need to revise my punctuation around dialogue. I thought I knew how to do this until I started writing a book. School was a long time ago.
We got a Christmas dinner, and one on Boxing day. By the evening of the 26th I was desperate to get back to my manuscript.
The editorial letter included some lovely comments: “Once Bitten, Twice Shy is a heartfelt, entertaining and satisfying novel”, “Hettie is a convincing heroine, and Alexander’s growth and self-discovery is very gratifying.”
I’m learning to blow my own trumpet. Even if the voice inside my head is whispering “Ah, but you’re paying her. She’s got to say nice things.”
Second round of edits due any day now. Bring it on.