Wednesday, August 23, 2006


The troubles with copyediting have been well documented here at Fernham. And, in spite of them all, I am genuinely delighted with my book. It feels kind of surreal, amazing, and good to truly be that thing that I meant to be: an author, a person who has actually written a book. And there it is, a thing in the world. A book. It’s funny how much these material things matter even to those of us who live the life of the mind. I am a mother: look, two daughters over there. I wrote a book: hold it in your hands.


When I received the proofs the second time, there was a query from the copyeditor next to the word “graft”: “Do you meant grants?” I wrote “No. STET” and then, a bit piqued, I copied out the OED definition of graft in the margin to show the copyeditor that I was, indeed, using the word correctly. This definition now appears in main text! The sentence now reads: “But they do have privileges: they have been away, they have drivers, they are on the receiving end of government graft (OED graft n.5: The obtaining of profit or advantage by dishonest or shady means; the means by which such gains are made, esp. bribery, blackmail, or the abuse of a position of power or influence; the profits so obtained).”

Words fail me.

How could a thinking person imagine that I meant to include this note to the copyeditor in my text? Why is a non-thinking person doing this job? The incompetence is staggering. The mind boggles.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Welcome to the world of published authors. I can recall what my professor, Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, said to me the day my first book was published:

"Now you have earned the right to complain about the stupidities of your publisher just like the rest of us."

It takes about seven hours till the initial exhiliration wears off and the complaining starts.

It will go on for the next thirty to fifty years.