The Proof of the Pudding....

The proofs of my book, God's Islanders, (to be published by Birlinn, in October) arrived a couple of days ago. Not only do I now have to go through them with a fine tooth comb, looking for the few typos and infelicities that 'got away' from the editor (not many, he did a fine job) but it is my very last chance to check several minor matters of fact which have been niggling at me, but which - inexplicably - I never got round to doing in the original manuscript version. God's Islanders is a work of non-fiction. But when you are dealing with a large mass of information (and the occasional wild speculation) there will always be some queries that you mentally file away to be checked later on. In the weeks before manuscript submission (usually, in my case, to a panic inducing deadline) there will be a multitude of last minute changes, and revisions, as well as the vagaries of footnote software, the fact that you didn't keep as many accurate records as you should have done and therefore have to spend several frustrating days looking things up again just to be sure, the printer that inexplicably presents you with an error message in mid manuscript, the cartridge that was full but is now empty, and the replacement cartridge that doesn't want to work...(I submit manuscripts online, but tend to send a printout as well, and ALWAYS keep a printout for myself, because like most writers I am completely paranoid about the innate malevolence of technology..) anyway, when you have dealt with all this, there will always be the odd unchecked piece of information or quotation which now needs to be dealt with.
Added to this, is that sad fact that I am not so frequently published that proof reading is second nature to me. The arrival of the proofs, when suddenly your manuscript begins to look like a real book (and you realise incidentally, just how many pages you have written!) is always exciting, but excitement is quickly followed by the realisation that you need to dig out the Writers and Artists Year Book and famliarise yourself with the symbols all over again, as well as finding the answer to those few final elusive questions. Happy days.

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