6 September, 2004

I always get really depressed when I finish something like a story or a piece of music, and I've never understood why. I remember talking to a friend of mine who was in the Ph.D. program in music history at the University of California, Berkeley, and she was really surprised when I told her that I would get depressed. She told me when she finished something that she would throw a party. It was always a great relief to her when it was done, which I thought was strange, but there we were at opposite ends of the same thing. She said it sounded almost as if I had postpartum depression. She figured it had to have something to do with the creative nature of what I was doing, and the fact that I was pouring something of my heart and soul into the work. I don't know. I've never understood it. I've never tried to understand it. When I finish a work, I always feel ready to keep going, and it always comes as a rather sever shock when I realize that there is nothing more to do. The work is done. The work can't be done. There must be more, but there is no more. It is done. Sure, there is still reading and editing to do, but the work is done. I'm not going to go back and rewrite, which is funny considering that all of The Etymology of Fire is, in fact, a rewrite of something I started when I was sixteen.

Yeah, The Etymology of Fire is done. I finished the last scene Friday night. It's really rather hard to believe. I struggled with the bastard for three years, and all I had to do to finish it was to completely and utterly ignore both the journal and String Finger Theatre for the past month. Yeah, that is all it took. It just goes to show that I can't really keep two projections going at the same time. Oh, I know it is possible when conditions are good. I remember a time that must have been a year or two ago when I was able to keep both going. I would work on String Finger Theatre as soon as I got home from work, take a break, and then work on The Etymology of Fire really late that night. Well, it isn't too hard to figure out that this system broke down. Nothing I could do about it. Frustrating as hell.

So, you would think I would be happy. You would think I would be ecstatic that I have finished The Etymology of Fire, but I'm not. I feel hollow. I feel empty. I feel that there is nothing more in life. It is a strange feeling. This emptiness. I have gotten used to it. I've felt it before. When I finished The Magic Flute, I felt relief and exhaustion, and then I was sad for a very long time. When I finished my thesis composition, which has still never been performed by the way, I felt sad and empty and exhausted. When I finished The Faire Folk of Gideon, I was sad and depressed. So, I'm used to it. I've come to expect it, and I know it will pass.

I'm already thinking about what I'm going to do next. The first thing is to throw myself back into String Finger Theatre. I am running dangerously close to the edge. There is only a week and a half of finished comics left. After that, I am in trouble if I don't get more written so I had better hop to it. So, I'll work on that and try to stretch to the edge. I'm really not sure what I'm going to do with the comic when the current storyline is done. I'm still thinking about taking the next story in a completely different direction. Zed is going to try his hand at art or photography or something like that. If I pursue this idea, there will be rather an impressive lack of running around and monsters and creatures from the third dimension. So, I don't know. It's probably a one-note idea that will only fill a couple of comics. Then, I don't know. I'll have to think of something else.

After about a month has passed, I'll go back and read over The Etymology of Fire. I'll try to hunt down typos and crap. I'll do whatever minor revisions I feel like doing. Then, the work will just sit there because I don't have the money to publish it, which is really depressing. I'll also see if I can get my audio book idea to work. I haven't worked on that in a while mostly because I was determined to get the stupid book done. I was really worried that if I threw myself too much into doing the audio book that I would simply forget to finish the damn thing, and it was much more important to finish the bastard than worry about an audio recording of it.

I'm also kind-of debating what project to pursue next. I really want to throw myself back into The Faire Folk of Gideon. I've had the beginning of the second book worked-out for a very long time, and I've got a pretty good idea of how the rest of the book is going to go. I don't have too much detail worked out because that is not how I want The Faire Folk of Gideon to go. When I started, I wanted the whole thing to be improvised. It really scared me when I felt this whole epic story start to form in the background, and I really had no idea how I was going to handle it if I tried to work without thinking about what was going to happen next. It still amazes me how well the first book holds together considering how most of it was made-up as I went along. I mean the details were made-up, and things always squirmed away from me. The basic outline and plot were all worked out. You could always tell when I was thinking about the future of The Faire Folk of Gideon because reference to future events would pop-up in the text. I'm not going to go back and look, but I recall Drake talking about leading a rebellion long before it actually happened at the end of the book.

I am also desperate to get some music written, and I don't know what I'm going to do about that. I've already confirmed that I cannot pursue three projects at once. I can barely maintain two. So, I don't know what I'm going to do. I really want to pursue The Faire Folk of Gideon book two, and I really want to futz around with music so I think String Finger Theatre is going to suffer, which I don't want to happen. String Finger Theatre keeps the site updated on a regular basis so I'm super reluctant to drop it. Oh, well. I don't know. We shall see what is to be done.

Oh, yeah, I discovered yesterday or today that I had that quote from Futurama wrong. I mentioned that the top membership rank of my forum is Squishy Poet from Beyond in honor of a line from Futurama, and I gave the full quote as "Kiss me, you squishy poet from beyond the stars." Well, I was watching that episode the other day and discovered that I was wrong. The correct quote is "Teach me to love you, squishy poet from beyond the stars." I stand corrected. Anyway, it's still a really funny moment from the show.

Well, I'm sure that everybody was just dying for me to correct that. Now, piss-off. I'm depressed.

18 September, 2004

Thought I would try something a little different with this journal entry. I'm writing it with Wordperfect 10 instead of Microsoft Word 97. Just thought I would give it a try. I haven't touched Wordperfect in years. I've been using Microsoft Word 97 since I got my P2-266 computer back in 1998. By that point, I had kind-of stopped using Wordperfect anyway. I was always a big Wordperfect fan. In fact, my family had Wordperfect long before we ever had a copy of Microsoft Word.

The first word processor we had was actually some little program that you've probably never heard of called PIE Writer. I think PIE was supposed to be an acronym for something, but I can't remember what. Mostly, I think it was supposed to be a clever pun. PIE Writer was the first word processor we had for our Apple II Plus computer, you see. You can bake apples into a pie; hence, PIE Writer.

Anyway, PIE Writer was an okay word processor for that old Apple II computer. We finally got Wordstar for the S-100 UNIX computer that my uncle gave us, but I never really did anything with Wordstar. I know that it is the granddaddy of all word processors, but that really is about all I know about it.

We finally upgraded to Wordperfect 5.0 when we got our first IBM clone computer in the very late eighties. It was a 4.5 MHz computer with a 5 MB hard drive, and we just thought that the computer was amazing. It was light-years beyond our old Apple II Plus, and it ran a word processor called Wordperfect. I just took to that word processor. Oh, it was much better than PIE Writer. Then, Wordperfect 5.1 came out, and I thought that there were just so many improvements in that version over the old one that it should have been called version 6 instead of 5.1.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, my mother started attending classes at San Jose State University and started using this program called Microsoft Word. Well, I don't care how much my mother sang the praises of Microsoft Word. I just thought it was a piece of shit. No, really, back in the late eighties, Wordperfect had the world over Microsoft Word. Word's interface sucked. It's structure sucked. The way it handled formatting anything and everything just sucked. What can I say? It was a lousy program, and I refused to use it.

Of course, Wordperfect and Microsoft Word got into this fierce competition. I couldn't help but notice that Wordperfect 6 and Microsoft Word 6 were released on the same day. We got both, of course, and I couldn't quite escape the feeling that there was something off about Wordperfect 6. There really weren't that many differences between 5.1 and 6. Sure, they changed from a blue background to a white background, and it now came with a grammar program. But, I didn't like it. Something was off. In fact, when I went off to college lugging the family laptop along with me, I insisted on installing Wordperfect 5.1 on it instead of 6.

A word about that laptop should go here. You wouldn't believe it if you saw it. The thing was a monster. I called it my glorified typewriter. It was good for only three things. I could write essays. I could check my email. I could use it as a boat anchor, and that really was about it. I used that laptop until the power supply died and there was no way to get a replacement. Just about a third of The Magic Flute had been written on that old laptop.

I forget, but the computer my parents gave me to replace the laptop was either a 486-66 or a 486-100 that they had gotten from somebody at the University of California, Santa Cruz. For this computer, I broke down and installed both Wordperfect 6 and Microsoft Word 6 for Windows. Well, Wordperfect 6 kept getting on my nerves, and I finally started experimenting with Microsoft Word for Windows. I wasn't crazy about the program, but it had finally caught-up with Wordperfect 5.1.

I still did all of my essaying and writing with Wordperfect, but I kept checking-out how things looked over in Microsoft Word. The main thing I would do with Microsoft Word was check-out how different the text of The Magic Flute looked in it, but I was still doing all of the writing in Wordperfect.

I finally saw Wordperfect 7 when I took that front office/computer support job at the University of California, San Francisco, and I discovered that Wordperfect 7 just sucked. The problem was that Wordperfect had really been losing ground to Microsoft Word since Microsoft had been doing stuff like bundling Word with Windows. The unfortunate side effect of this was that Wordperfect 7 bore an uncanny resemblance to Microsoft Word, and they had done a really crappy job of it, too.

Well, I knew right there and then that Wordperfect had completed the slide that had begun when they had released Wordperfect 6. I was also using Microsoft Word 97 at work and knew that Microsoft had finally created a word processor that was better than Wordperfect 5.1. Kind-of sad really. Wordperfect had peaked with version 5.1 while Microsoft had managed to improve their program.

This is why I picked-up Microsoft Word 97 when I got my P2-266 computer. As a matter of fact, I grabbed the whole Microsoft Office 97 suite. I knew I wanted to be able to experiment with the other programs. It would really help my ability to assist people around the department if I knew as much about Microsoft Office as I could.

I never even looked at Wordperfect 8 or 9. There never seemed any reason to do so. Wordperfect 7 had attempted to emulate Microsoft Word 6 for Windows and had failed. I figured the company would either go out of business or continue to copy Microsoft. Well, if they were going to do that, I was just going to stick with Office 97.

Of course, this just leaves the question of why I have stuck with Office 97 instead of upgrading to 2000 or XP or 2004 or whatever they are calling it this year. The reason is simple, really. I got to use Microsoft Office 2000 at Netcurrents, and I really couldn't see a reason to upgrade. Microsoft Word 2000 looked bloated rather than improved. In fact, I really only saw two differences. You now had access to the thesaurus by right-clicking on a word, which was really cool, and each word document had its own tab in the task bar, which I also thought was impressively cool, but none of this really seemed like a reason to upgrade. Microsoft Access was no longer a part of the package. You had to pay more for the version that included it. Word 2000 also seemed to run slower on a faster computer than the one I had at home running Word 97.

I really got turned-off of upgrading Microsoft Office when I heard that Word XP didn't support the rich-text file format. Well, screw that. I needed to be able to save as rich-text when importing into Adobe Pagemaker. I know, it was possible to import word format, but rich-text just worked so much more smoothly. It was clear what was going on. Microsoft was trying to lock-out the competition. At some point, Microsoft was forced to change their policy and include rich-text format, but I had already been disgusted.

Since then I have had the opportunity to work with Microsoft Word XP a little, and I really have not been impressed. It seems even more crappy and bloated than Word 2000. Whatever they had done to it was not an improvement. I could only wonder if the main reason for the new release was so that they could force people to upgrade. They could say that they simply did not support that old version anymore and that if you wanted help you would just have to pay for the new software.

Of course, you can't just call something an upgrade without actually doing anything. People would notice. This has resulted in a whole mess of superficial changes to Microsoft Word, and I cannot think of a single one that has actually made the program better. I have been rather amused to think that Microsoft Word really peaked with Office 97 and everything since then has simply been downhill.

Well, something has come-up recently, which has lead me to think that I may have no choice but to upgrade. I now have my fancy Dell computer running Windows XP, and yet I still use my trusty old Office 97. I was really worried that there were going to be all kinds of problems. I had in fact been left with little choice but to upgrade all of my Adobe software. I seem to recall chronicling my pain in upgrading Photoshop, Illustrator and Pagemaker in an old journal entry or other. The problem is that my trusty old copy of Word 97 cannot cope with Windows XP's user switching ability. If I leave Word up and running, switch to another user, and try to start the program, Word bitches and complains like nobody's business. It gets really upset and gives all these warning and error messages and basically doesn't want to work.

You wouldn't think this would be much of a problem. I've only got the one user. Unfortunately, that situation is in the processing of changing. I've set Samantha up with an email account and also with Eudora, which means the easiest way for her to use it is to have her own user account on the computer. Still not really a problem. I leave user switching turned-off, and we simply log out and back in when the other person needs to check email.

All I've been thinking is that it would be nice to use this user switching feature. It would be nice to not have to make sure that everything is turned off and saved properly before the other person takes a stab at the computer. This means I've finally got to upgrade my copy of Microsoft Office. So, I've been trying to look at whatever the new version happens to be. I'm trying to find-out how bloated and ugly it is. Office XP is bad enough. I can only guess at what they have done with Office 2003 or 2004 or whatever.

At some point in grousing over all of this, I remembered that my wonderful Dell computer had come with a copy of Wordperfect 10 preinstalled. Here's a chance. Check it out.

The verdict? It seems okay. The program bears an uncanny resemblance to Word 97. I really like the built-in dictionary. Okay, something really screwy just happened as I was typing that last sentence. I tried to change a word and lost about two paragraphs of text. I was able to recover them by clicking on undue a couple of times, but the glitch never should have happened in the first place. The program has also displayed a problem or two with the menu and button bars as if Wordperfect just really doesn't have a handle on how to interface with Windows XP. Not good.

However, I could live with that except for one really damming thing. I need a spreadsheet program like Excel. I'm really found of Excel. In fact, my favorite version of that program is Excel 98 for the Macintosh. They really did something awesome there that I really wished Microsoft would duplicate in the Windows version, but from everything I can tell, they have simply refused to do it.

Well, in addition to coming with Wordperfect, my Dell computer has also come with Quattro Pro 10. I checked that program out last night, and I do not like it. I do not like the set-up. I do not like the interface. I do not like the fact that hitting the tab key after entering info into a cell does not trigger the cell. Instead, hitting the tab key changes what other cell the current cell is pointing at, which I simply do not like at all.

Quattro Pro's biggest problem is with Perfect Expert. When I first fired-up Quattro Pro, Perfect Expert was taking-up the left hand side of the screen. Well, I hadn't liked that in Wordperfect and had discovered I could move it to the right side of the screen simply by dragging the window. Well, guess what happened when I tried dragging the Perfect Expert window in Quattro Pro. Perfect Expert would not dock with the right side of the screen. It chose to dock with the top of the screen and proceeded to take up half the screen space. The best part is that I cannot get Perfect Expert to move. It steadfastly refuses to become disengaged from the top of the screen. This all seems really stupid since the options in Perfect Expert remain a single column requiring a scroll bar to see them.

Why the top of the screen? Why the top, I ask you? I was cussing at Quattro Pro last night. I didn't want Perfect Expert to swamp the window. Oh, sure, I could just turn it off and never use it again, but that is hardly the point. It won't come off the top. It won't go back to the left side. It just stays right where it is, and there really doesn't appear to be anything I can do about it. I spent quite a bit of time last night trying to find an option or a setting or anything among the pull-down menus and whatnot but nothing.

So, forget Quattro Pro. I refuse to use it, and I'm not going to purchase Quattro Pro 12, which I understand is the latest and greatest version, just to find out if I can get the fucking Perfect Expert window to disengage from the top half of the screen.

Well, I still need a spreadsheet program. Since I refuse to use Quattro Pro, I'm kind-of stuck with Excel, which is cheaper if you buy the whole Office package.

Well, what can I say? It's been fun playing around with Wordperfect 10. The interface and everything seems okay. I like the built-in dictionary, but it's got enough quirks to make me reluctant to switch.

I guess I'll just stick with my trusty old Microsoft Office 97 until I really don't have any more choice in the matter. Oh, well.

Oh, that is freaky. I just discovered a way to have every paragraph automatically begin and end with the HTML paragraph tags. I'm going to have to saunter over to Microsoft Word 97 and see if it can do the same thing. If Word 97 cannot do it, then I've just found a very good reason to use Wordperfect. At least for journal entries, anyway.

Oh, man, except Wordperfect added all of these end-of-line characters when I brought the text into Macromedia Dreamweaver. Oh, well, you simply cannot win. You just get to choose which sucky things you can live with.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. I was checking my web logs this morning, and it looks like String Finger Theatre's readership has increased from thirty to forty people. This is cause for celebration.

27 September, 2004

I can't spell. No, it's true. I really suck at it, and it isn't from lack of trying to spell correctly either. I was in fact very aware of the fact that I had a problem with spelling. I think I mentioned in a previous journal entry how I used to draw stick figure stories when I was a kind, but I never added dialogue because I was ashamed of how much my spelling sucked. I think I also mentioned that I went so far as to take one of those improve-your-spelling classes at junior college. Yeah, I went to junior college before graduating to grown-up college. I was sixteen at the time. You got a problem with that?

Like I said, I cannot spell. I really suck at it. Taking a class specifically designed to help people learn how to spell did not help. I even tried really hard in that class. I assure you that I tried.

My grammar sucks, too, by the way. Oh, it does. I don't try to hide from the fact. I've taken tons of grammar improving classes, too. I've read books. I've done study guides. My favorite grammar book is this monkey called Grammar 2600, and it rocks. It's a great book, and it is designed like a bunch of three-by-five cards with each little square a question answered on the next page. I've still got this book. It is the best grammar book I have ever seen. Of course, my grammar skills continue to suck, and this is not from a lack of effort to improve my grammar.

I will admit that my spelling and grammar skills have improved. My grammar has improved much more than my spelling. I can authoritatively bluff my way through any grammar problem and have even held my own against people who actually knew more about grammar than I did. I suppose it helps that I think of grammar as more of a guideline than any kind of authoritarian pronouncement. I still have trouble with the names of the parts of grammar, but I really don't care. I can spot the difference between a noun and a verb. I know what a pronoun is. However, if you were to ask me to spot the adverb or to underline the adjective, I would throw the chair threw the window and seek to escape.

I know practical grammar. I know to keep away from commas. I can place an apostrophe correctly most of the time. I'll still trip-up over this one occasionally. It's kind-of embarrassing really when you realize that it was a possessive relationship. I don't have too many comma splices. My sentences don't run together too badly. Sure, I'm in love with the sentence fragment and will use them with wild abandon, and I don't care if boldly going is a split infinitive. I've actually researched this one and discovered that most grammar guides don't care that it is a split infinite either.

I can't spell. I admit it freely, and I'm quite willing to ask people if they know how to spell a word. I'm still embarrassed, but it makes me feel good to realize that my guess had in fact been correct. I can copyedit most text that is put in front of me. I don't pretend to be perfect, and if it contains too much scientific junk, then I am just lost. But, I'm pretty good at editing other people's shit.

What I really suck at doing is editing my own shit. I stink at it. I really suck. If it is creative shit such as one of my short stories or novels or even a journal entry, then I'll never see the boomer in the words. I won't notice a typo or a misspelling or a grammar weevil. I'll have edited the fucker in the space between my eyeball getting zapped by the reflected light and the recognized words reaching the higher thought centers of my brain. It is amazing the mistakes I'll find down the road. I'll be reading back over something months later and discover that I really screwed the pooch there. Oh, man, I can't believe I missed that fucker. I must have been brain dead or something. It's embarrassing. It is very embarrassing.

Okay, I can't get through this without pointing out the one exception. While working as a tech writer at Netcurrents producing copy for the website and the user guides, I rocked. My text was pristine. Okay, I doubt it was totally perfect all the time, but I remember the web master once told me how wonderfully error free my text was. I don't know why she pointed this fun fact out to me, but she did. She meant it as a compliment, and I really don't know what other text she was having to deal with that was so full of gunk and skunks but whatever. My text was good. Sure, it was. Go ask her. Her name is Anneka, and she is a freelance web designer.

So, my spelling sucks. My grammar sucks, and this just sucks. It sucks that I suck. I feel really bad that I suck so much, and I have really tried to improve. I'm not just whistling here. I've tried, and I will admit that I have had some success. My spelling and grammar do not suck as much as it used to suck. The problem does remain that I cannot spot my own mistakes, and this always leaves me feeling shy and insecure and embarrassed and whatnot.

In fact, I once had the editor of a prestigious fiction magazine send me a short lecturing letter about how I really should bother to edit my work if I ever wanted to be taken seriously as a writer. It went on to say something along the lines of how I should have friends and family look over my work if I did not feel I could do an adequate job on my own and if I could not afford the services of a professional editor. This magazine editor went on to say or maybe he said this part first that he had found a consistently misspelled word in my document and that each time he had stumbled across it the misspelling had taken him completely out of the story.

Just in case you are wondering, yes, this is in fact the expanded version of the forum post I did this morning. If you haven't bothered to look at the forum in forever, then you can just ignore this paragraph.

Now, I suppose I should explain why I had received a rejection letter from the editor of a fiction magazine. I do have a rather outspoken position on the subject of self-publishing, and you are probably thinking that you have just discovered why I'm so big on self-publishing. Well, sorry, but it is not because I was rejected by a fiction magazine, which happened a couple of years before I discovered that it was actually possible to self-publish.

In the middle Nineties, it had occurred to me that maybe I should do everything I could to make some money and avoid getting evicted from my apartment. It also occurred to me that maybe I should try getting some of my fiction published if I ever wanted to prove to anybody that I wasn't just wasting my life by spending so much time on things that obviously weren't helping me earn a living. It was while doing this that I discovered that there are really very few places where a Science Fiction and Fantasy minded author can turn to get shit published. This was also where I earned my share of rejection letters. The one from the lecturing editor being the most memorable. It wasn't even that he disliked the story. In fact, he said that it was quite interesting. It was simply the fact that the consistently misspelled word had been one of the deciding factors in turning down the story. Personally, I think it had more to do with the fact that the editorship of the magazine had changed hands, and I hadn't accounted for this in my submission. I think the new editor wasn't predisposed to linking anything addressed to his predecessor. It also didn't help that I didn't attend conventions, seeking to get noticed, and generally suck editorial cock. Okay, figuratively suck editorial cock just as the kiss-asses at graduate school didn't literally suck professorial cock.

Oh, man, I just pissed-off so many damn people, and you know who you are.

Now, I do in fact subscribe to the self-same magazine from which the editor sent me the lecturing rejection letter. A subscription that I am about to let slide after almost fifteen years because the content has really gone to hell, but I digress. This has nothing to do with the fact that they rejected my manuscript. I've kept the magazine for years since then. I'm not going to renew because the types and styles of stories they publish has changed. The stories have become more conceited, cerebral and intellectual. I used to read the magazine from cover-to-cover. In the last two years, each issue has contained at least one story that I have had to skim or skip because it was so bad. It's just gotten too depressing to keep up the subscription, but I digress.

People have pointed out to me that there are spelling, typo and grammar mistakes in The Magic Flute, which is a fact that depresses the hell out of me. I wish I didn't make these mistakes. I wish I could spell. I wish my grammar skills didn't suck so much. I wish I could edit my own work, but I cannot. I just really suck at it, and I simply cannot afford to hire somebody to copyedit the work for me. It sucks. It sucks. It is depressing as hell, and it sucks.

Of course, it doesn't suck as much as it used to. I've discovered something interesting. There are spelling and grammar mistakes all over the fucking place. I mean I cannot pick-up a book these days without finding at least one typo. They are typically typos. I probably wouldn't notice a spelling mistake. I don't look for grammar mistakes. You never know when those are intentional.

But, I've seen obvious blunders. I've seen sentences that do not make sense because a word is missing or wrong. I've crashed into this problem in every single recently published book I have picked up, and these are published books from real companies with real editors that cost a butt load of money at the store.

I seen these errors, and I feel good. I get a warm fuzzy feeling. I also get royally pissed off because I paid seven dollars and fifty cents for that last Terri Pratchett book, and I really don't think I should be tripping over multiple spelling and grammar farts. Okay, I'm perfectly willing to overlook one fart because nobody is perfect. But three? Three farts in something that has been published by a fucking huge publishing house with access to editors and copyeditors and assorted nose and ass pickers? Somebody should have found them. The publisher should have at least one person on staff whose sole job is to go over the text for spelling and grammar problems. I think at least a nickel of that whole seven dollars and fifty cents I spent on the fucking book should go toward the salary of somebody whose job is to make sure there are no farts.

But, they don't because the publisher earns more money if they don't bother to pay somebody minimum wage to search for book farts. People are going to buy the fucking book anyway. The publisher cannot think of a single solitary reason why they should be bothered to seek out and exterminate book farts.

More and more of a book's copyediting has been pushed off on the author. There used to be a time when there were people at the publishing house who were responsible for copyediting, but the business has changed. Editors are treated more interchangeably, and people do not feel the loyalty toward their publishing house that they used to feel. This is what I've been told anyway. So, the author is stuck copyediting his own work.

I'm not just making that last part up. I work at the University of California San Francisco, and one of the big things I do is help faculty submit manuscripts to scientific journals. Guess what I discovered? All of these big prestigious scientific journals put somewhere in their instructions to authors that the journal is not responsible for copyediting the manuscript. In other words, if you're reading some prestigious and learned scientific journal and you find a spelling mistakes, don't take it up with the editor who you would think by his titles is kind-of responsible for editing. You get to blame the poor scientist who knows more about chemistry and biology than basic sentence structure for the problem.

This was never a problem in the past because big old universities used to keep editors on staff. I kind of figure this is why big old scientific journals realized that they didn't need to copyedit because one of the university's staff editors had already taken care of this little job. Of course what with advances in spelling and grammar tools in word processing programs, universities have decided that the old department editor who made all of their manuscripts look good was a luxury that was getting in the way of the department chair and the dean earning three-hundred thousand dollar salaries.

So, knowing what I know about how scientific journals work, I kind of figure that maybe the same process operates at fiction journals. And, if this is how fiction journals work, then maybe this is how great big publishing houses work. And, if this is how great big publishing houses work, then maybe people like Terri Pratchett and J.K. Rowling should shell-out a buck or two for somebody to copyedit their manuscripts before it is sent off to the editor. Hell, I think that if J.K. Rowling cannot spend a few bucks out of her millions and millions of pounds on a copyeditor then I certainly think that maybe her agent should consider doing this behind her back. It should be part of an agent's job to make the client look good.

Hell, I think that people like Terri Pratchett and J.K. Rowling don't even need to hire somebody to do the copyediting. All people like them need to do is stand-up at the local Science Fiction Convention holding a copy of their latest manuscript and say something along the lines of "who wants to pay me fifty bucks to edit this?" Yeah, you heard me. I bet you that either one of those two giants could actually find somebody to pay them for the honor and privilege of copyediting the manuscript. Wait, did that sentence make sense? The poor fan-schlup would pay the rich author for the privilege of doing work that should have been done by the editor at the publishing house. Is that sentence any better?

I suppose I should point out here that I'm not singling out and bashing Pratchett and Rowling on purpose. They just happen to be two people who I have read and found fucking typos in their fucking expensive books. I'm sure I could pick up the latest Steven King horror and find shit for brains mistakes. I've also neglected to point out that TeamFranken neglected to find all the spelling and grammar farts in Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. I have also just started going through Jon Stewart's America: The Book, and it is missing a figure. I paid twenty bucks for this thing, and it is missing a figure in the very first chapter. Can you believe it? I suppose that the fact it is missing a figure is part of the joke, but that sounds more like a save than the truth.

But, you can see why I feel better about myself, don't you?

I suck. I know I suck. I try not to suck so much, but I still suck. If I had money, I would in fact pay somebody to copyedit my shit, but I don't have money so my shit goes unedited. This makes me feel bad, but at least, I know it is just me. I've just got me. Little old self-published nobody is going to notice me. Oh, look, he's got spelling mistakes. Ignore him. He is nobody.

Yeah, you know what? You've got money and spelling mistakes. What's your excuse?

copyright © 2004 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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