I passed an important milestone yesterday. I finished proofing the book. I made the final amends and off the manuscript went one final time.
I can say I am pretty pleased!
Non-fiction makes for tricky proofing. I’m sure if I wrote fiction, proofing would be easier. There’d be none of those pesky facts to check but I guess even werewolves have facts and facts about them that have to be checked. What do they eat and when do they sleep?
Proofing is more than checking spelling and grammar. There’s style; not the way you dress when you write but the style in which you write. Avoiding semi colons and colons might be a part of that style, like wearing a tie or not.
Before I could proof my book I had to invent a style. I had to decide how I used punctuation like colons and semi colons or even deciding that I wouldn’t, like George Orwell.
I didn’t know anything about the Oxford style for commas and never really thought about using capital letters too much. Style is all about this and more, about dates, numbers and proper names. Do you write numbers as words or as numbers?
And then there’s facts. Facts about geography, facts about history, facts about everything around the times I was writing about. Place names in Wales! Germany was almost as bad. And then there were places with names that had changed!
I was lucky. Other people helped and checked what I wrote, advised on changes and guided me through the maze that facts, and Wales, had become.
Some will have slipped through. Facts have a way of doing that. Facts, like werewolves, change as easily as the moon.
In the end consistency matters. Consistency or integrity is all that matters. And a little humility when things go wrong, as they surely will.