Monday, August 06, 2007

Smarter than when I woke up this morning...

The manuscript of my book arrived this morning, with copy-edits for me to review. Yikes. Let's just say that I owe the production staff at Hachette Book Group a round of drinks the next time I'm in NYC....

It wouldn't be so embarrassing, actually, except for the blasted em-dash.

What's an em-dash, you ask? It's a stylistic little piece of punctuation which I used--incorrectly--on almost every page of my manuscript. ALMOST EVERY PAGE. I'm surprised the copy-editor didn't put a hit out on me.

There is, apparently, a bit of debate between proponents of the em-dash and fans of its lesser-loved cousin, the spaced EN-dash. But I can't even claim to be a victim of this cross-fire. No. My chosen way of setting off my random thoughts - the open-space-en-dash - (which I just demonstrated, for what I promise will be the very last time) is used only in Germany, and certain parts of France, neither of which I visited while working on this book.

I am duly humbled.

To cheer myself up, I went to Staples to buy colored pencils for my editorial notes. I found a lovely box of twelve different colors, and rushed home to my manuscript, ready to get to work. I pulled the plastic off the box, debating if I should make my marks in purple or orange (green and blue were already taken by the aforementioned production editors for whom I'll soon be buying drinks), when my momentum came to a horrible standstill...

The pencils were not sharpened. None of them. Unlike the picture on the front of the box, which featured several SHARPLY POINTED, READY TO USE PENCILS, all of my new pencils were flat-bottomed and artistically inert. Sigh.

Steve and I do not, so far as I know, own a pencil sharpener. And while THAT DOG has eaten a pencil or two in her day, she's not exactly noted for her precision. I might have an eyeliner sharpener from a Clinique promotional lying around somewhere; if not, I probably won't have time to post tomorrow. You know, because I'll be whittling.

13 comments:

L Sass said...

Oh poor thing. I'd send you a pencil sharpener if I thought it would get there quick enough.

Congratulations on the book progress, though!! Woohoo!!

kristen said...

I love em-dashes. Like you, I am at least consistent, though I have no clue whether I am correct in my execution. I'm off to review the debate. Fingers crossed that I'll fall on the right side of it.

I do hope you find a pencil sharpener soon. More importantly, you have a copy-edited manuscript in your hands!! Hooray for you!!

Sarakastic said...

I use ... way too much, I wonder what ... is called. Unsharpened pencils may seem like a huge let down, however it gives you options. You could sharpen the end where the color is engraved that is usually the top of the pencil...

Larramie said...

Thank you, Trish, we all seemed to have learned a thing or two. Be they em or en, the dashes are determined more by the typesetter than style points. Amazing.

Angela said...

I had this exact problem with a pencil not too long ago. We don't own a pencil sharpener to save our lives. I was desperate, so I whittled it with an Exacto knife, old school-style.

Em said...

How cool to have your manuscript back in your hands, even if you do still have some work to do, you're one step closer to being a bona-fide published author!!!!! Amazing!!

I use "..." way too much also, sarkastic:).

So proud of you, Trish! oh yeah, Gavin said to tell you that he is also a big fan of the em-dash:) (I'm still kind of in the dark about what that means).

ellesappelle said...

Wow, that makes me terrified at the very idea of writing a book and showing it to someone in editing!

I feel your pain re the unsharpened pencils. What a bummer.

heidikins said...

(em & sara: ... = ellipsis)

I love this post; mostly because I just finished an entire book on punctuation. That's right, nerdhood rears her perfectly coiffed head. It's a book on punctuation and I was laughing out loud every few pages. Hysterical! (Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss - check it out)

a life uncommon said...

Editing sucks. Congrats on all the progress!!!

Swishy said...

HOW EXCITING!!!!

I don't have a pencil sharpener in my house, either :)

mcewen said...

I go to Office Depot to cheer myself up too! Do you think it's a serious condition?
Cheers

LEstes65 said...

Ok, firstly, which of us lobotomy victims would even know about em-dash and en-dash? Or am I alone in not caring?

Secondly, what a gorgeous use of the word inert. Very nice.

Thirdly, if it's pencil sharpeners you need, that visit down here would help. Not only do I have many differing types of said sharpeners but my 7 yr old will do the hard labor FOR you. Probably more than you'd want. Down to a nub. Come on down.

PLD said...

oooh, nerd alert, nerd alert. I love em dashes. I wouldn't worry about your copy editors putting out a hit on you. If they're anything like the few copy editors I know, they probably just think that those changes validate their career! So en dash on!

Congrats on the manu!