Discovering the Book
by Janci Patterson
I expected the final copyedit for CHASING THE SKIP to feel like a chore. I'd been over the book so many times. Fiddling with grammar is not my favorite part of writing. But it had to be done, so when I received the pages in the mail from my editor, I dutifully pulled out a pencil and opened them up, expecting the process to be more or less routine.
What I found inside was both something I expected, and something completely unexpected. The book was printed on regular manuscript paper, but it had already gone through layout, so the pages looked like they would eventually look in book form. This meant that someone else had gone through my book and laid out the words, made and applied chapter heading graphics, applied fonts, and generally spent a lot of time turning my manuscript words into soon-to-be published book words.
And then. I did the copy edit. I made some changes with my dutiful pencil. But more than that, because the thing looked more like a book than a manuscript now, I was able to actually read my book for the first time ever. Of course I'd been over every word of the thing many times before. But as a writer, I'll never get to read my book the way my readers will. The story still lives too much in my head, so I'll never be able to look at the words on the page and form a new picture the way another person can. My picture will always be colored by the ideas already in my head. But that read through, with my shiny new book that someone else had done visible work on, I got as close as I ever expect to get. And I discovered something very important to me: I like this book. I'm excited that I get to share it with as many readers as will give it a chance. I'm proud of my work, and impressed with the work other people did as well. Writing a novel is a long series of tasks and many of them are unpleasant. And I never expected to say this, but the truth is, that copyedit was my favorite part.