The Stress of Proof Reading
Hyphen or no hyphen? Centred on page or not? Why did I find the proof reading stage so tense? I guess because it felt like I was about to push the button on something and there was no going back.
Jan Fortune, publisher and editor at Cinnamon Press, sent me the proofs for my pamphlet, ‘Codes of Conduct’, and I took my time. I read and re-read, and found a couple of small things like spacing between words; the kind of errors where you wonder how they slipped through the net in the previous five hundred times you checked the poem. I re-formatted the poem ‘The Butterfly Test’ and then Jan and I had a little back and forth over whether or not the word touchpaper wanted to be hyphenated. ‘Touchpaper’ is one of the poems in the collection and so ‘Touch-paper’ or ‘Touchpaper’ began to matter. Upon such minutia are minds lost in this game. The red line that Microsoft Word puts under certain spellings can make you doubt yourself!
Here are a couple of the notes I sent Jan – you can see that proofing the work takes time, and just how hung-up on the detail one becomes.
> Page 14 - Should the time appear as 8.45 a.m. or 8 45 a.m. --- the > point/dot between 8 and 45?
Page 11 - Amy's Desk - alignment of last line at end of first stanza > "and stares"
I was lucky enough to be able to add a couple of poems to the collection at this point too. The first part of ‘Codes of Conduct’ deals with a character called Henderson and his workplace. I had written a couple more Henderson poems in the interim and felt they really needed to be in the collection and Jan was obliging. Thus ‘Clean Windows’ and ‘Out To Lunch’ made the cut and Henderson’s world was a little more complete for readers.
Well, I pressed ‘send’ and the proofs went. I guess proof of how worthwhile the angst was will be in the pudding and the poetry.