Since the start of the year, work on the Ladies Guide has been progressing steadily. Sometimes slowly, always surely. And last week, thanks to all that slow, sure and steady progress, I typed the final full-stop. I was sorely tempted to dash it off to the printers, but reining in my haste, I asked a professional to proof read it.
We agreed a fee and a deadline. I took a couple of day's off secure in the knowledge that I would receive the manuscript returned with a few spelling mistakes and typos marked and then I'd send it to print.
The returned book had thousands of yellow stickies marked. Millions! Trillions!
I couldn't believe it. It would take me ages to wade through all the changes.
After a period of self-indulgent, self pitying exhausted sighing I got stuck in. And to my surprise it turned out to be a joyous experience. My proof-reader was a super-proofer. She had caught every spelling mistake, every grammatical error and every clumsy turn of phrase. She had got into the spirit of the book and marked where I had slipped out of eighteenth-century language. She even brought to my attention the use of the word camouflage, letting me know that this word had not been invented in the 1780s.
And she went even further, donning the cloak of an editor. She re-wrote many sentences improving them hugely. She suggested additions of explanatory statements in various places. She considered the structure, the syntax, the contents, the concept.
And if all this was not enough, she peppered her corrections and recommendations with comments of praise and encouragement. Every so often, I would open a stickie note only to read some witty words of appreciation.
I had asked for some proof reading and what I received was so much more - a much improved book........and a sense of pride in my accomplishment.
Now, I'm dashing it off to the printers.