I suspect that somewhere in Bloomsbury’s New York offices this afternoon, a hard-pressed production editor could have been seen banging his head on his desk. If we’d had a video link, he and I could have done it in unison.
I’d promised to get my corrected proofs of Ruso 4 to said Editor by last Friday, so he could get everything parcelled up and sent off to the elves who magically make words into books. Having posted them well in advance, I was feeling rather smug – until Friday came, and instead of a note of thanks came a polite reminder.
Monday arrived, but still no proofs. The elves, who have a schedule to meet, must have been getting twitchy. I was still feeling smug. Always one to look on the bleak side, I’d allowed for the possibility of the parcel vanishing over the Atlantic. Before posting, I’d fought a pitched battle with Staples’ photocopier and emerged clutching a duplicate set. Yes, all 340 pages.
‘Never mind,’ I assured the nice Editor. ‘I can type out the changes and email them.’
Now in 340 pages there are bound to be a few typos, but these are as nothing compared to the writer’s urge to pencil in last-minute changes. It’s the final chance to try and make your novel the wondrous thing it was when you dreamed it up in the middle of the night, instead of the battered reality that emerged several months later. There were a LOT of changes.
Still, I boldly set to, checking and collating and scrawling in pink and scattering pages across duvet and sleeping husband until 1 am, then up at the keyboard bright and early, spurred on by a combination of coffee and guilt. (When you post something as ‘printed materials’ aren’t you supposed to leave it accessible so the customs folk can check it? Coating the entire package in Sellotape may have been a mistake.)
Still, while the corrected proofs were lying in a corner somewhere waiting to be sniffed by a drugs dog, I’d discovered the creative inspiration that comes from a second ‘last chance’ to make amendments.
Finally, triumphantly, I tapped out an email to hard-pressed Editor announcing that a full typed list of even better amendments was attached. As the little envelope emptied itself in the corner of the screen an ominous yellow ‘unopened’ one appeared.
It was from hard-pressed Editor. All was well! The elves were happy! The parcel had just arrived.