August 13, 2007

Last Dance, Last Chance

Look what I got in the mail.
Originally uploaded by Citizen Rob.
I have a secret for you. I have been reading the same book over and over for the past four months. Sometime in the next day or two, I will finish reading it one last time, and then I will be done with it for a while. Which is good, because I am really getting sick of this one book.

Which is really only problematic since I wrote it.

I got my last batch of edits back, from a mysterious entity known only as "The Copyeditor." It is that person's unenviable job to find all the little things that I have done to mangle the English language, some of which were careless mistakes but most of which were simply little tics of mine. "That" and "which" apparently baffle me like a dog hearing a high pitched sound, for example, and I misuse "like" with the frequency of a teenage girl. I also do not envy the person who had to find every instant where I ended a sentence "like this". That period is supposed to be inside the quote, and I cannot tell you why I do it otherwise. I got it right a few sentences back, when I mentioned "The Copyeditor," so perhaps there's hope for me. (Look! I did it right again! That's how I roll now, baby.)

Shortly before putting down my manuscript and hopefully going straight to the nearest Manhattan bar for boozy relief, however, "The Copyeditor" penned an extremely cool note on the back of one page. I'm going to put it on my little brag wall, which is not so much an actual brag wall (since no one ever actually comes to my apartment and sees it) as it is a place above my desk to look and remind myself that this is all really happening.

This whole process is going much better than I ever had any right to expect. This may not be the book I ever wanted to write, it might be the Monkey Paw book for me. Nevertheless, I'm heartened by the early reactions of the professional, fancy pants people who have actually read it. I'm cautiously hopeful that once the book comes out, I may be able to do the one thing I never thought I would ever get to do in this lifetime (and perhaps wasn't all that interested in doing before Schuyler came into my life).

I might just be able to make a difference in this world.

I know, that's so cheesy that it might just squirt out of a can, but absolutely true.

Programming Note: Julie and Schuyler are going back to Michigan for a week starting next Thursday. (After careful consideration, I opted for a few sessions of Recreational Sharp Things In My Eye instead.) Will I choose to spend that time working on my new book or sitting around watching cable tv and eating until I become Robba the Hutt all over again? Place your bets now.


Anonymous said...

It might comfort you to know that if you were in Britain, your use of quotation marks inside punctuation would be entirely correct (well, most of the time). They also tend to be much less stringent about 'that' and 'which' over here for some reason. Perhaps you're secretly British!

Anonymous said...

I think you already have made a difference.

Erica Ridley said...

I got my last batch of edits back, from a mysterious entity known only as "The Copyeditor."

I feel for you! I just got my very first revision letter on Friday (whoo! go me! lol) but it was from my agent, not an editor, so I have yet to learn how badly I may have mangled my native tongue. =)

Best of luck!

Linda Ball said...

I think you will spend the time staring at the note from anonymous copy editor and preening while not eating, um, correctly. The copy editor appears to be female, given the handwriting, don't you think? I'm not so fancy pants as to write a book but my better half writes a column in a weekly neighborhood rag and I sub for him now and again. We edit each other and end up having fun discussions about punctuation and antecedents. I love editing. Maybe I won't ever write a book and will get a job doing that! No, wait. I'm retired. No jobs!

Julie Pippert said...

If your editor is anything like me, he or she is more afraid of The Copyeditor than you are.

The ones I worked with were fantastic and nicer than nice (also invaluable) but oh my. I probably apologized 800 times per manuscript in abject shame and horror.

It wasn't my job as acquisitions or developmental editor to copyedit or proofread but I felt dreadful each time a major error or style inconsistency got marked. I mean, I should have caught it anyway...I was EDITING after all LOL. (Plus it slowed the process.)

I noticed my authors didn't ever seem to give a rat's patootie about copyedits, LOL.

So you probably warm the cockles of everyone's heart caring as you do. :)


Ravin' Picture Maven

Vicki and Stephen said...

Note that while using the punctuation inside the quotation marks used to be cool, the new standard, especially associated with programmers and other computer-y people, is to put them outside unless the entire sentence is in quotation marks. Your copyeditor is, like, so 1990 :P

I enjoy reading your blog, great luck with your book :)

Jenbuster said...

What a frickin' cool comment! I agree with anonymous that you already have made a difference. Bravo Rob! It's been really cool since to see this evolution of your writing since Kalamazoo Days.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that note is awesomer than an awesome awesome trying to win an awesomeness contest.

Anonymous said...

I put together a couple of newsletters and had one contributor who INSISTED that the right way was with the period on the outside of the quotes if the whole sentence wasn't a quote. Being a bit OCD about such things, I went researching to find out WHY I was right... And the reason isn't so much 1990s as 1890s... Here's a quote:

And just why, you may ask, do they belong there? Well, it seems to be the result of historical accident. When type was handset, a period or comma outside of quotation marks at the end of a sentence tended to get knocked out of position, so the printers tucked the little devils inside the quotation marks to keep them safe and out of trouble. But apparently only American printers were more attached to convenience than logic, since British printers continued to risk the misalignment of their periods and commas.

And after I told that to my contributor? She continued to do it wrong but didn't complain when I fixed it for her. [sigh] To Americans who read, it looks wrong because everything we see in print -- books, newspapers, magazines -- all use this convention.

Anonymous said...

You have much more of a difference than you will ever know.

Susan said...

I feel silly repeating the same sentiment yet again, but I too believe you have made a difference already.
And how awesome is the note from the copy editor?!

Good luck on your week of bachelorhood!

ysabelkid said...

Since my English teachers used British standards, your use of punctuation outside quotation marks is not only correct, but logical to me. I'm mildly annoyed whenever I see the "wrong" way, but that's just me being obsessive.

The note from The Copyeditor (tm) had me feeling a little soppy, but doing a small "Go, Rob!" here at my desk. I cannot wait to experience the same feelings when reading your book.

emjaybee said...

Oooh, elizabeth, I can add another bit of arcane editing info to that. The reason us old people were taught in typing class to put two spaces after a period was because on a typewriter, ink bleeds on the paper; you needed two spaces to allow for that. Whereas you aren't supposed to do it now because computer printers don't bleed nearly as much, and two spaces looks wrong.

Why yes, I was a copyeditor, how can you tell?

And Rob, honestly, what really peeves a copywriter are not little quirks so much as actual bad writing. Some of the best stories I ever read were from a writer who might've been dyslexic, her spelling was so atrocious. But her stories were hilarious, and she was a hoot, and so I didn't mind the work at all.

Anonymous said...

Dude, Michigan rocks!
Too bad you opted for the alternative... more Texas.

Robert Hudson said...

Dude, you can have it!

Has anyone ever said Michigan rocks before?

mollyjade said...

It's my job to move that comma! Don't worry, we have a computer program that finds them all and moves them.

jennifergg said...

Oh I just love copyeditors. I wish I could have one in real life, following me around fixing all my gramatical mistakes, making me look smarter than I really am, sending me nice notes of encouragement...I think there's a special place in heaven just for them.

I'm glad you took the corrections in good spirit, and that the note at the end made you proud. It should!

And congratulations: I think with the vetting out of the way, and the copyedits done, you are very very close to being finished!

Erica Ridley said...

Dude, Michigan rocks!

That cracked me up. =)

Anonymous said...

every instant where I ended a sentence "like this".

Instance, and the punctuation should only go inside of the quotes if it is a part of the quote. You put the comma at the end of a quoted sentence (or dialogue) to denote that there is some form of punctuation being replaced. If you are using the quotations as a form of emphasis, as in your example, the punctuation is correctly placed outside the quotes.

I'm not saying you got it right in the book, just that you incorrected yourself here. I can't help you on your use of like, I find it totally appropriate. Tubular.

Anonymous said...

I work in publishing with a nonprofit organization, and I can tell you that you *never* get notes from the copyeditor. NEVER.

And to confuse you even more: the semicolon and colon don't go inside the quotation marks.
- Melissa