Monday, January 17, 2005

"A Poem is Never Finished, Only Abandoned"

The proofs of Arabian Wine sat on my desk for a week before I began to look at them, which was a mistake. Proofread closely, they disclosed dozens -- eventually a couple hundred -- of needed fixes, from a (very) few errors introduced by converting files into page proofs to grammatical and other errors that nobody caught and stylistic revisions that, seen in the proofs' attractive design, seemed quite urgent. When I consider the many drafts and dozens of careful readings, it is disconcerting how many obvious glitches would suddenly leap out at me, as though they had been clever enough to hide all this time.

I asked to see the final pdfs -- those with the last stage of corrections incorporated -- and in addition to finding a few slips in the corrections process, I was eliminating anachronisms and infelicities right at the very end.

Today the book is out of my hands, and I will return to the novel in progress tonight. (Too many kids underfoot on this holiday to get work done before then.) I hope I don't see more errors in the finished book.

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