Yesterday afternoon, I sent the author the copyedited manuscript + a dog-eared style sheet + a nine-page memo. I spent five hours composing, proofing, and polishing it. I was supposed to have the manuscript to the author by December 23; I may miss that date, but not by much.
The manuscript necessitated somewhat heavy copyediting. The author will decide what to accept of my suggested changes. She’ll then insert them into the computer file. Sometime in January, she’ll send the manuscript back to me for proofing and minor copyediting. At that time, I’ll also copyedit the numerous footnotes she’ll have complied.
You may wonder perhaps why I’m still doing this work at age seventy-five. The answer is simple: I like to copyedit. I become a sleuth discovering dates and ages that don’t agree, names misspelled, words that long to be lowercased. Finding the relevant rule in the Chicago Manual of Style is like wandering a maze with a Sherlock Holmes’ magnifying glass. DJan will know what I mean because of her editing career.
Liking my work is one aspect of accepting projects. The other is my desire to move back to Minnesota. The money I earn on this project will help me hire a moving van. I lived in Stillwater for thirty-eight years before moving back, at age seventy-two, to my birthplace. Slow of wit, I hadn’t realized that the North had become home to me. Now, three years later, I yearn to be back there.
If all goes well, I’ll put my home on the market in March 2012. Who knows how much time will pass before a buyer recognizes my abode as a haven? Once that happens, I’ll find a place in Minnesota where I can spend the remainder of my life.
And yet . . . and yet, I must admit today that I’m ready to give up editing projects. I hanker to be published again. Right now, I have rough drafts for three novels—one takes place in first-century Palestine, one inhabits bronze-age Greece, one follows the paths of four ex-nuns. I’ve also completed four books on cats—from a fantasy to a self-help book for felines. All await an agent and a publisher.
Writing, as you know, is labor. But for those of us who love the written word, it is a labor of love. Just today I spoke with Elise, whose book The Golden Sky was published in November. We agreed that characters often surprise us. Unbidden, they arrive in our consciousness, insisting on sharing their lives with us. They make themselves present to us. That is why, perhaps, for me, writing is prayer. I am never more in the present and in Presence than when I write.
Your blog comments have helped me decide to return to writing my own manuscripts. We writers don’t spend hours writing so as to fill up a file drawer. We want our manuscripts to be read and enjoyed. Given that, I’ve decided that in 2012, I’ll retire from editing the work of others and return to my own writing. I’ll try to find an agent to represent my work. That won’t be easy, because finding an agent is difficult in today’s publishing world. Composing a captivating query demands a skill I may not have.
But as Dulcy says in her book, “At the end, all that matters is love.” I truly love to write. This blog allows me to do that, but I have so many stories I want to share with others—stories of characters who demand entrance into reality.
I hadn’t expected to write all this today. I was going to continue the saga of getting published. But these words came; I accept them with gratitude. On Saturday I’ll return to A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story and share with you my first reading at the Stillwater library.
Tomorrow I’ll begin to comment on your blogs. I’ll need several days to catch up, but I look forward to discovering what’s been happening in your lives while I’ve been gone.
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