It's taken a while, but at long last Anne - my long-suffering but brilliant copy-editor - and I finally managed to work our way through what seemed like an interminable amount of wordage in a valiant attempt to eradicate all those spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and turn the final draft of The Reckoning into something vaguely resembling the Queen's English.
As an author it can be a daunting process; opening up that attachment to be confronted by all those clangers lovingly picked out in bright red font with appropriate comments in the margin. Then there are the sections of text, in my case highlighted in canary yellow, which tell you that you've employed the same word or phrase rather too many times for comfort and you really ought to have known better, or at least have been more attentive.
It does tend to make the heart sink at first glance but nil desperandum and all that. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do...
The first move, of course, is not to panic. The second move, when it comes to those yellow highlights, is to reach for Roget's Thesaurus and pray you come up with viable alternatives. If that fails the only recourse is to delete the offending word or sentence with immediate effect because nine times out of ten you didn't need it anyway.
What's that old adage? Less is more? Works for me.
In other words, if in doubt cut it out. I could nominate quite a few of my fellow authors who would do well to follow that mantra. Nope, not on your life; it'd take a braver man than me to name names...
Any road, now that's out of the way, the next job will be to go through the galleys. They're the pages as they appear in the finished book and they should be with me within a week or two. It's the last chance to spot any howlers and to make those last minute adjustments before the thing heads off to the printer to be transformed into the product as it appears on the bookshelf; all shiny and new, without notes in the margins or the price snipped off or the pages folded over to save the place, though that's infinitely preferable to using a slice of bacon as a book mark. Trust me, that has been known.
But y'know after all that it never ceases to amaze me that even after umpteen read-throughs by a bunch of usually very bright people cock ups do still occur. I still wince over the ones that weren't picked up in a couple of the earlier books, especially when they're brought gleefully to light in those not-so-complimentary Amazon reviews.
And no, I'm not going to list those either. A person can take only so much embarrassment.
But it's all grist to the mill and we do try our best, honest.
And believe it or not the editing can be good fun, especially when there's jousting involved. By that I'm referring to the things I try and slide past Anne, hopefully when she's not looking, like the odd homage to some of my favourite films, usually westerns.
A couple of books ago I did attempt to sneak 'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.' past her but, unsurprisingly, she was on that like a striking mamba.
'Star Trek?' was her response. 'Seriously?'
I did try pointing out that in The Wrath of Khan the writers had purloined dialogue directly from Melville's classic Moby Dick, but she was having none of it.
What she didn't twig was that it was all part of my cunning plan because while she was fixated on that she failed to spot the references to a couple of my favourite oaters, both of which, in case there's anyone out there frowning at this admission, were entirely within context and unlikely to be noticed unless, like me, you're a film buff.
I'm guessing that if you've stayed with me this far, you might be wondering if I've employed the same devious tactic in The Reckoning.
Might have, might not...
Anyone here a fan of The Wild Bunch...?