The Joys of Proofreading

The_Scots_Holding_Their_Young_King's_Nose_To_the_GrindstoneI received the completed manuscript on Friday, what might be called a “galley-proof” when I was a boy. Hard at work now on it.

The proofreading of the galleys, as I remember was tedious. My father, a smart as well as a wise man, wrote several books. In the early sixties, when my brother, sister and I were in our teens, we were allowed to help. I remember long summer evenings reading to my father about medical technology (the field was burgeoning at the time due to automation and new clinical tests of which he had invented not a few). Needless to say, none of the three of us had any real knowledge of what we were reading, this apparently by design. My father thought, accurately, that we would be more likely to read what was on the page, if we did not know what was supposed to be on the page. The proofing extended through the entire summer, consuming most evenings for at least one of us…and my father.

We even took the thing on vacation. On a family camping trip to Put-In-Bay Island State park, we camped on a little knoll and slung a hammock beside the tent. The reader got the hammock for the duration and my father got the camp table to be near the Coleman lantern. Decades later, my sister and I went back to find the site. It was still there, although no longer a campsite, but we disagreed on the trees as they had not agreed to remain constant to our memory. My memory does however includes long passages of the unusually dense subject matter. When I started Medical school the end of that same decade, it was actually of use: Beers’ law–the concentration of a substance in a liquid is proportional to the optical density of the liquid.

Funny how some things stick with you. My good father is dead now for over fifteen years. I kinda like doing the proofing in a way.

As my character Jesse might say “Ah wouldna thought th’ thing sae sweet, juist thinking mah faither hud dane it afore.”

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