When Bob called the day after chemo, January 15, to say he’d like to deliver the first draft of the designed version of Devil Cat, I was surprised. I thought it would be another couple of weeks. He knew I’d be having my low days the next week and hoped I’d have time to go through it before then. I did––at least seven times––between that Thursday and the following Monday when he stopped by to pick it up.
The first time through, I just looked at the photos and illustrations that were now mixed in with the text and read the captions and credits. Seeing all the various parts of the book come together is so exciting. My first impression––I liked it. I loved it!
Then the editor in me came to the forefront. I started with the cover and looked at every single thing. This time through, I read every word on every page. Bob had told me that he just barely finished getting it all designed the night before and had not had a chance to go through and check for mistakes. So there were several obvious things that he would have caught had he had the opportunity––such things as my instruction to insert photo number such and such here, leaving out the book name or chapter name on the top of a couple of pages, or leaving out a couple of credits by a photo. This go-through took hours.
I waited until another day to go through it again. This time, it was everything except the edit. I checked to see that all chapter headings were on right-hand pages, that the layout was the same for each as to font and font size and boldness, that each first sentence started with several words with small caps and that the initial drop cap was the same size for each chapter. Only an editor would notice any of this, but if anything is wrong, the reader may not know what is wrong but that something isn’t right, isn’t consistent.
On the pages with photos and illustrations, there was the layout of each that needed to be consistent and that the captions and credits had the right font, font size, boldness, Italics or not, and spelling and accuracy too.
So whatever style Bob chose to use in designing the book, my job was to make sure it was consistently employed and where it wasn’t to note it. In my job at the magazines, all this became second nature. So it felt good to be back in the role of editor again.
After a thorough once over of the edit and a thorough once over of everything else, I let it sit. Then again I went through all the edit word for word. The first time through, the obvious pop out. This time, the smaller, but just as incorrect, mistakes get noticed. These are the ones that are the most difficult to detect because I’ve missed them more than once and so did Bob when he edited it a couple of months ago. One that almost made it though was “dire streets,” which should have been “dire straits.” I finally caught it . . . and had a good laugh.
Then it was time to go through everything but edit once again. Again it’s the little stuff that didn’t pop out before. (No period at the end of a caption. Like I said, little stuff.) Then I went through and checked all the page numbers and the headings at the top of each page. I also put the page numbers for the Contents page and the Credits page. And I double checked those.
I gave everything one more look through Monday morning before Bob came to pick it up.
Tuesday morning, I awoke to very little energy with maybe a 10-minute period of being upright before I wanted to lie down or at least put my head down. I am now referring to this period of chemo as my black hole. Fortunately, this was the first of six days for Tres Eberhard to come and be with me for 2 ½ to 3 hours each day.
I would get up at 7 a.m. and have my shower or wash up and get dressed. Then I’d fix and eat breakfast and get my teeth brushed/flossed. That would have used up all my energy and be about 9 a.m., when she would be there.
She would fix me my morning protein drink, prepare whatever I wanted her to do to make fixing dinner easier, and fix my lunch each day before she left. In between, I had “chores” for her. I had done some cleaning between editing periods over the weekend. But I didn’t get the dusting done. So she dusted and then I had her disinfect handles, knobs, the computer keyboard, and my phone.
On a couple of days she washed the inside and outside of windows in my kitchen and dining room that were easy to get to. She pruned off last year’s growth on my hydrangeas outside the front room windows. Then she provided the muscle while we cleaned out stuff in my walk-in closet and drawers in a dresser. We sorted through my endless collection of socks, the gobs of stuff that accumulates in bathroom cabinets, and my cedar chest. These are chores that I’ve been going to do “someday” for the past few years. The piles of “can still be used,” she took to the Humane Society thrift shop and dumped the “throw aways” in the trash. She wanted to be kept busy, and I had plenty for her to do.
Each day, January 20–25, after she left, I’d eat lunch and then sleep all afternoon. I’d catch up emails and the mail and make any phone calls before fixing an easy dinner. Then I’d watch some TV and go to bed early. My goal was to just get though each day of this black hole. Because I have hardly any energy, no endurance, and my white blood count is down, making me susceptible to catching colds and flu etc, I stay home away from groups of people.
So yesterday was an exciting day because I ventured out after being homebound for seven days. My big plans were Fred Meyer (for groceries), the post office, the bank, and Pacific Publishing to meet Bob. We had a great chat and he gave me back the manuscript for Devil Cat.
Now I get to go back into editing mode. I’ll check to see that all the changes I found were made and go through everything again and again as if this were the last time. The manuscript will go back and forth until there are no more changes. It feels good to be an editor again!