06 February 2009

Powell's question # 10

Here is my unsolicited answer to the tenth and last question raised by Adam Donaldson Powell:

"Do you have other comments you would like to add to this discussion?"

To this last question, Diane Oatley replied: "Proofreaders charge by the hour. They are not expensive. Use one. It will take a proofreader two hours to get through a 100-page poetry manuscript. For me it is completely irresponsible even self-destructive not to recognize that A WRITER CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT DO EVERYTHING! Any good editor knows this. You create the art; get a second or third opinion from someone qualified on the content and/or language. Keep editing (are you in a hurry? Take the time with your craft!!!). And then hire a proofreader. If you are broke, trade proofreading favours with a colleague."

I'm a very good proofreader of the work of others (I also charge very high), but am a terrible proofreader or even copyeditor of my own work. Too many times, when a work of mine sees print, I find typographical, grammatical, and stylistic errors that make me cringe. When I check my original computer files to see if they were my fault, I almost always find out that I sent them in myself, and my editors, perhaps giving me the benefit of the doubt because they know I have a doctorate in English, have not corrected my misspellings or grammar or references. I commend Diane Oatley for suggesting that writers hire proofreaders (and copyeditors). I also like the idea of saving money by trading such tasks with a colleague, although I'm not sure friendship can survive a debate about which word is better than which other word. I once angrily almost pulled out a book manuscript from a publisher (I was much younger then) because the editor thought I should use whom instead of who in a particular sentence. I might lose a friend if we got engaged in the same heated argument.

Oh, thanks, Adam Donaldson Powell, for allowing me to post answers to your thought-provoking questions, even if you did not ask me to join the discussion.

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