Thursday, 22 January 2015

Sight for sore eyes... proof reading

Somebody fetch me some new retinas (retinae?)

I thought I was a pro at proof reading. Smug statement, but based on fact. I proof read at work a LOT, and try and snag and snip and be as pedantic and annoying as possible to spot every last little typo or weird caption or funky line break.

But this week, I have proof read so far:

- a chunk of things for work
- two articles
- the entire text of my first book

The first two were ok. The work bits and bobs are concise and printed out and easy- you can't miss a page break in the wrong place when a caption is smeared across two pages instead of one. Even I can't miss that, and merrily curse myself and fix it.

The articles were also fine- a little harder to spot things amiss, on a screen and all. They were still neat, contained, and I could go through methodically line by line and section by section- the journal editors of one had organised the article in that way, and the other... well, I printed it off, just to be safe.

The book. That was a different kettle of leaping, jumping, flapping fish- too big to print, tricky to compartmentalise, so familiar that I finish its sentences for myself and have to FORCE my attention on every word, every letter. It's done- and it's fine, and I did find things wrong (always reassuring- if I don't spot a mistake, I assume I've missed one- that way lies paranoid madness).

But is there anyone smarter than me at this? (I really hope so, as I am pretty damn dumb). How do you fight your own lax mind, when it's striving to ignore what you can see and insert what should be there?

Let me know if there's a genius tip- hypno-proofing (can you tell I've been reading about hypno-birthing?), proof yoga, a 1000-words an hour proofing rule? Initiate me, o proofing priests and priestesses!

By the way, humble brag alert. The book (the first book) will be out soon. I'll no doubt post some gushy mushy yuck on here when it is, emoting about how the cover makes me feel. And all of you will leap from your computer screens weeping tears of joy at the chance to read about Etruscan pottery from a phenomenological perspective**. Yeah, you will.

** In an aside, Melvyn Bragg and company on In Our Time talked about phenomenology today. I think anyone studying philosophy or archaeological theory should have a listen- NOT to learn, but to feel comforted that Melv can't pronounce phenomenonmenonololology either.