Proof reading? Nailing jelly to the wall, more like

by SJ Griffin

I’ve encountered the first massive problem with going it alone. This is our new name for self-printing. I can’t afford to pay a proof reader. I was lamenting this earlier and a friend asked why this is a problem when have had jobs where I proof read and I’ve been on the training and everything. There are two problems. First, I have rewritten The Vanguard at least eight times overall and some sections have had more reruns than that. So I’m over familiar. That’s a killer. I don’t even need to read all the words now, the opening of a sentence is a prompt and I practically know what the whole thing says without even having to pass my eyes over it. Second problem, I hate proof reading. I’m not any good at it. My brain wanders off, I can’t concentrate. Apparently, I don’t read line by line I read chunks of text. This is not helpful for a proof reader and it’s a real effort to force myself physically to do something I’m not used to doing. Like learning to write with your left hand when you’re right handed.

I come to terms with having to do it myself, after a couple of days of some intense moaning. Then I gather some tools to help me focus. A ruler so I can only read one line at a time. Chocolate for self bribery. Then I sit down and do it. The first time I can’t stop rewriting bits. I do manage to sort out all the funny punctuation slip ups. I think. The second time the same thing happened but I do spot some more mistakes. The third time it’s in kindle preview format and it’s still full of mistakes. I’m still rewriting.

So, the fourth times looms and paranoia sets in. Is there any point in my bothering? Shall I rob a bank? I go for a run. I resolve to concentrate. I approach the page with immense trepidation and begin. Ten minutes later I’m look out of the window wondering what’s for dinner and I have no recollection of the last five pages.

I’m getting desperate and then I spot a mistake in my copy of Charles Bukowski’s Ham on Rye. ‘you you’ it says. Twice. It’s not meant to. Even the proper professionals make mistakes, this takes the pressure off. I stop trying to achieve perfcetion.