Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Longest Week

It’s that time again.

The proof pages for Bitter Crossing (August 2014) have arrived from my editor at Midnight Ink. This is the stage I least enjoy, the stage when the author reads his or her novel one final time, top to bottom. The proverbial speak-now-or-forever-hold-your peace moment. Or, if you grind over every syllable, like I do, a daunting 12-hour period.

Some authors enjoy this stage. They sit down with a glass of wine and re-read their words, reminiscing about how hard they worked to get things just right. Not me. I’m thinking I could make this better. Always.

“Note that this is the last opportunity you will have to submit changes for the book,” writes my wonderful editor, Nicole Nugent, “but that we are past the ‘rewrite’ stage; only corrections that are necessary should be made to the text at this time.”


What does she mean by “necessary”? It’s necessary to always make the book better, right?
Just one more brush stroke? Please?

I’m the author who tinkers with a sentence for 20 minutes, the guy from whom the publisher has to pry the “finished” book from. After all, nothing’s ever “finished.” I mean, Fitzgerald was still tinkering with The Great Gatsby during the proof stage. And if his prose still needed work, mine sure as hell does.

I wonder if F. Scott got stomach aches reading his final proof, too. I hope he didn’t. I hope he saw his genius.

Ironically, near the bottom of Nicole’s letter she urges me to enjoy “your first copy of the book!”

If she only knew….


Hannah Dennison said...

Hi John - first of all ... congratulations! Secondly ... I know exactly what you mean. It's the wording "last opportunity" that makes me feel nauseous. Once my books are on the shelf, I rarely re-read them - it's too embarrassing.... but wine definitely helps.

John R. Corrigan said...

I just sent my editor the final, final edits! More than she wants, I'm sure. A comma here, semi-colon there...

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

And it happens pens every time and never gets better.

I'm feeling nauseous already. Some time this summer, I'm going to be reading that phrase "last opportunity" . . .