Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The Final Proofread

… is done. Ah, the relief! The discussions over how far to bend the rules regarding commas are over. The trouble with commas is that if you go absolutely by the book, you don’t necessarily convey the intended meaning, and you certainly can’t go entirely by the book in direct speech, or everything sounds far too formal. If you decide to trust your word processor’s grammar-checker, you end up inserting semi-colons unnecessarily all over the place, so you change half of them to dashes, and then think – hang on a minute. This is stupid. What’s wrong with a comma? And then you count twenty commas in one sentence and take half of them out, and your proof-reader tells you you’re breaking grammatical rules and tries to re-instate them. You’re so busy counting commas that you nearly miss the fact that half your name is missing from the biography page, and a line that should be straight on the cover has a small kink in it.

Too late to change things now. ‘Small Poisons’ is winging its way over to the printers even as I type these words. I will have the first copies in my hands in a fortnight or so. That’s the point at which I’ll notice that Esmerelda’s name changes to Albertine halfway through, and Edgar’s eyes change from blue to brown depending on whether he’s appearing in odd or even numbered chapters.

Luckily none of these characters appear in the book.