There Are Gremlins In Those Pages

In various posts over the past year I’ve mentioned the time warp that settles over me when sitting at this desk working on the latest writing project. Prior to April 2011, the passage of time was dominated by either putting words on paper or trying to arrange the ones already there into some semblance of order. Then everything changed.

As reported elsewhere, I entered a writing contest, began actively submitting my novel Pilot Error to agents, and opened up the Pandora’s Box of Indie Publishing. Looking back over the past twelve months, the decision not to hire someone to help me publish my book, but to invest my time learning to do it myself, in many ways put the rest of the world on hold. Including this blog, which I’ve enjoyed maintaining in the past and have always intended to keep fresh with regular new content.

There’s so much to talk about that I can’t possibly include it here. It’s Mother’s Day, (rest in peace, Mom), my wife, her daughter, son-in-law, two grandchildren and I will share a brunch in a few hours, and then I’ll attend a regularly scheduled roundtable meeting of the Novel-In-Progress Group of Austin (NIP).

We’re reviewing a portion of new novel by my friend and fellow writer J.T. Conroe, who is a retired architect. The submission includes a scene on board a jetliner, which is analogous to me submitting an architectural thriller. JT asked me to read the submission in advance, which I was more than happy to do, and we both know that my aviation background is a good way for him to filter the scene through a finer mesh than the average NIP member might bring to roundtable.

I mention this because today’s meeting also involves the main reason I’ve been wrapped in a time warp over the past couple of months. Not to mention the demands of daily life, I’ve been busy with the first of two non-fiction books to be published prior to Red Line, the sequel to Pilot Error.

I’ll save the background on the non-fiction for another post. For now, suffice it to say that Book One of Wings On My Words, tales from the writer’s desk, is almost ready for publication. Last Friday afternoon I received five copies of the first paperback proof from CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand service. That evening and continuing into Saturday, I scoured the book from cover to cover looking for errata. Today at NIP I will hand copies to fellow writers who have graciously donated their time and talent to put “fresh eyes” on it.

Although self-editing is a skill all writers need to possess, for most of us it’s an imperfect talent, rendered less than completely effective due to the the blinders of familiarity. It’s as if our eyes get ahead of our brains, and we see what we expect rather than what’s really there. Using a proof of the paperback during copy editing is a very good idea because the brain “sees” real print differently than digital, and final formatting can be checked as well.

Wings On My Words will also be published as an eBook, so the requirement to copy edit a digital version still remains. But if the interior file uploaded to CreateSpace for printing the paperback is used to generate the eBooks, proofing them is not so much a matter of copy editing per se as it is to ensure that the conversion to EPUB and MOBI formats does not cause formatting problems.

Ultimately, writers have to look not only at the macro view of the forest, but the veins in the individual leaves. If you are a writer, you understand the difficulty of doing that. If you’re not, you can take it from me that unwanted words (or the holes where one should be and isn’t) do hide. Right there on the page/screen. And when the moment finally comes, when you see the erratum for the very first time, you know beyond the shadow of a doubt.

There are gremlins in those pages, and you don’t have to be writing fantasy to encounter them.


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