Final Moments Before Lift-Off

(Originally published Jan. 29, 2007).

This week, everything started happening too quickly, leaving me feeling panicky and off-balance.

To start with, a week ago, I returned home from a 5-day jaunt to Toronto, and received the files for the final copy edit of ‘The Jaguar Legacy’ along with 167 other emails. After spending several days (okay, hours — it just seemed like days) dealing with the emails, I got right to work. My job, I reasoned, entailed surrounding myself with snacks and sustenance, curling up on the sofa to re-read ‘The Jaguar Legacy’ from cover to cover, and filling out the amendment form with the page number, line number, context, and text of the required changes. Within four days, I had accomplished these tasks with effortless ease.

After I’d finished patting myself on the back, I still felt a tad uneasy. I’d enjoyed myself too much. Everything had gone too smoothly, too easily. Was I too uncritical of my own work? I asked myself. Then I had one of my brainwaves — I would ask my husband to give the book a final reading. He is, hands down, the most analytical, thorough, and meticulous person I have ever known or will know, and would be the perfect critical audience. No errors could possibly escape his vigilant scrutiny.

He graciously accepted the assignment and hauled the manuscript into his cave where he spent the next three days wielding a red pen and uttering muffled growls and mutterings.

Aaaaargh! During the entire time, I lived on pins and needles, occasionally answering questions that, to me, had perfectly obvious answers, defending my choice of words, and generally absorbing criticism (otherwise known as constructive critique — we writers are very a thin-skinned group).

Last night, my husband announced that he had finished the process and handed me a manuscript bristling with yellow stickies and brimming with red ink.

The man deserves a medal. He managed to catch inconsistencies, errors regarding timing, redundancies and duplications, and a hundred other nasty little details I had overlooked. So far, I have compiled 11 pages of changes for a total of 213 errors. The count is still growing.

This exercise has been more than a mere copy edit. My publisher may faint at the results, but at least I can rest easy and say with confidence — THERE ARE NO MORE ERRORS in my manuscript. Or I’ll eat it, page by page.

Please pass the Pepto Bismol. Uuuurp.