November 14, 2018 – Been putting in serious time. Now up to 143 corrections and changes input. Just one more chapter plus acknowledgements and index of recipes to go. Also, I need to re-write the cover text. Then it’s back to the publisher, after which we should have a firm production schedule.
November 12, 2018 – This is tedious work. I got 33 of the corrections and changes input on the publisher’s form today. That’s about 20% of the total. It’s not just tedious. It’s also pressure-packed. Whatever I enter here will be changed in the book, so it better be correct. I decided to take a break to rest my eyes and my brain. I’ll get back at it tomorrow.
November 2, 2018 – 179. That’s how many corrections and changes there are from this round of proofing the book. Amazing. Some are errors made by the book designers. But the single biggest group are the placement of commas. When I hired an editor to convert the manuscript from the Associated Press stylebook to the University of Chicago style book, as required in the publishing industry, that person inserted the Oxford comma throughout the book. I tried to reject all of those, except the ones that were needed for clarity. But there were hundreds of them and I missed a bunch. I’ve concluded that the comma is the most mystifying thing in the written English language. Seems that everyone has his or her own idea of where the belong. The second most common “error” found by our proof reading team involved placement of punctuation inside or outside of the quotation mark. Many people wanted all punctuation to be inside the final quotation mark. That applies only when the quotation mark is designating an actual quote. If it’s there for some other reason, like highlighting a word or phrase, the quotation mark goes inside the punctuation. Enough for English class for the day. I need to get on with logging the corrections and changes for the publisher.
November 2, 2018 – The proof reading army has done it’s job. Proofers from New York to Wisconsin and California – 33 of them – took on a chapter or two, or another section of the book. I have gone through their notes, made the corrections they highlighted, and accepted many of their other suggestions. Now it’s time to transfer all that to the editing forms provided by the publisher. Do I believe we have found all of the typos? Not for one second.
October 25, 2018 – It’s the mechanical aspect of proof reading that’s the damper on my enthusiasm. The book is a living thing filled with interesting people and their actions. But proof reading is cold and calculating – it’s me vs. the typo gremlins and a lifetime of history says there is not much chance for me to achieve total victory. Then there is the need to coordinate and manage the work of the 44 generous people who volunteered to help with the proofing. Also, I realized today the book designers wrote their own copy for the front cover flap and the back cover instead of asking me to provide it. I’m going to need to rewrite both.
October 22, 2018 – I proofed five chapters of COOKING FOR A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN today. I’m a terrible proof reader. That’s why I asked for help. I get too involved in the text, and in this case it’s all very familiar not just because I wrote it but because I’ve read it over and over and over again through the years. I’m still waiting for the real excitement to set in. Is it possible it never will? I’ve been published so much over the last 64 years, is it just nothing new? I hope not. This is my first book and I’ve been thinking about it and working on it since 1986.
October 21, 2018 – I just finished proof reading Chapter One – Mom’s chapter – She Made the Music Start. Mom died in 2001 and Dad in 1980. I looked at the photo of them with this chapter and realized how much I miss them, how important each was in my formation, how I wish my grandchildren could have known them, and how much I wish they were here to see this book come to life. The recipes in this chapter are Mom’s, handed down from her Romanian mother. They include chicken soup with matzo balls (knaidlach); old-country beef, barley and mushroom soup; Dad’s favorite Navy bean soup; sweet-and-sour Russian cabbage soup from Dad’s side of the family; Romanian eggplant salad; pickled lox; potato latkes Dad’s way; lokshen kugel (noodle pie); stuffed cabbage; beef with noodles and cheese; Norma Levine’s gefilte fish (original hand-written version), and a user-friendly version of the same recipe.
October 19, 2018 – After a week like this, why don’t I feel more excited. Oh, I’m excited, all right. But it’s all inside. Outside, I’m just tired – sleepy tired. This afternoon I distributed sections of the book – COOKING FOR A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN / the tastes and tales of a wonderful life – to the 44 people who volunteered to proof read the galleys, which I received from the publisher Tuesday afternoon. It was waiting for me on my computer when I got back to the office after a two-hour meeting to work on the marketing and promotion program.
I first thought of writing a food book 32 years ago. Through the years many literary agents and editors told me I didn’t have the credentials to sell a cookbook. I’m not a famous chef, a celebrity, a dietician, etc. One agent finally suggested I turn it into a memoir, which is what I ended up doing. For the last two years I’ve been revising, adding, deleting, re-writing, editing and proofing. And now I have the galleys in my laptop and a hard copy printed out in a box on my desk. I can feel the adrenalin draining as I sit here, waiting to head out for a nice sushi dinner, and I feel satisfaction and gratitude for the friends and acquaintances who answered my call for help with the final proofing. The book was proofed four times before I sent it to the publisher. It was edited twice by professional editors. But if I’ve learned anything in 64 years of writing all manner of things, it’s that typos are insidious creatures that hide within every text and there is no such thing as too much time spent hunting them out. So, in the next four days, 44 people will read a chapter or a section of the book and I’ll read the complete book. And when we’re done, it goes back to the publisher for final revisions.