Thursday, August 2, 2012
I’ve been waiting this week for the galleys* for The Exact Place to arrive. I heard they’d been sent last Saturday. Knowing they were coming, and that when they got here I would need to focus exclusively on going over them, I had Monday to prepare for something I have no idea how long will take. Hours? Days? I did laundry, paid bills, answered urgent mail and watered flowers. Read Image and The Sun magazine. They didn’t arrive. It’s Thursday and the USPS has not seen fit to deliver them yet. What was I expecting? An entourage from Kalos Press? A police escort? Still, this slight delay has given me time to do things I love, but have been ignoring. Dusting the giraffes on my desk. Swiffering the floor of the office – ridding the corners of small webs and insect carapaces. Sorting and shelving stacks of books.
As today began, I reviewed God’s inimitable timing for things. Pick something. Anything. A job. Buying a house. Marriage. Illness. You just never know. The time-line for publishing this book has been a fruit-fly zig-zag for years. Who knows how many times I offered the work up to God asking for trust and patience? How many months did I consign it to darkness, acknowledging it may be an effort for God alone and a few friends? I wanted to be content. Satisfied with that.
Now as I anticipate going over the galleys and correcting each little mistake, am I happy, grateful? Yes. But I'm also worried about being perfect – the very thing I claim so loudly not to worry about. I will see entire pages, chapters even, that need to be re-written. It’s way too late for that obsession. I can hear critics wondering what MFA program I failed. (None, sir. All my own doing.) My daughter Marsena, a writer and novelist, says I should go over the book backwards. Start at the end and read each sentence one by one up the page. It is agony, but it so startles the brain, you are able to catch mistakes that your eye would otherwise miss because you have got into the flow of the story and automatically corrected the error.
* Galleys are the book's pages almost print-ready minus the small editing changes to correct errors.