Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Last Stretch of Copyediting

Ah, to some good news at last! This is after the tremendously boring news I have been posting so far. Beg your pardon! I am happy to say the novel is in the last stretch of copyediting, which has been a painful process. It feels great, I feel as if the effort has been worth it. Fie you! Negative thoughts. Don't come near, I warn you.


Copyediting makes a difference, it surely does. It's not easy it's tremendously hard. It requires concentration, willingness to research, keeping mind clear – even isolating yourself - of distractions, some skills with the computer. Why do writers look haggard all the time? As if they needed a shave and a bath? It's because the mental process is too involving, time consuming.


Surprise! Today I met the writer and editor who taught me a few lessons in editing. He is a consummate practitioner of the word and his editing lessons were truly outstanding nuggets. Yeah, to think about it, I met him today. I won't name him, as I don't have his permission to do so. We talked about this and that and how we had enjoyed working together and parted.


I was editing a difficult piece for the online news domain I was working for at the time. He was my senior editor. He gave me time, which was the best part. Most editors these days don't have the time to give to anyone; they are so busy with their own work. But this guy, younger than me but more talented, sat with me on the manuscript I was working and showed me some tricks.


He read out a sentence and said, "This is not what they actually mean. You have to understand what you are trying to say."


Then he edited it and said, "Yes, now it reads fine." He read it out and then, "this is what they actually mean. See, how simply I have put it and brought clarity. It's the amateurs who think they are too smart and write recondite English."


This got me. How is it that people mean one thing and write another? Yes, it happens. So often I am bewildered by what I have written in my earlier days, when I chance upon them accidentally. This happens to people also. They have this beautiful thought and since they don't have writing or editing experience, when they write, it comes out as jumbled and incoherent.


That's why writing and editing is an art. Woefully, an art that is ignored by people, going by the bloopers our newspapers have these days. For example:


"I-T probe on Qureshi slams CBI ex-chief"


Glaring caption in a leading newspaper. From reading it you aren't aware what the writer is saying, or, meaning to say. How can a probe slam somebody? Shouldn't the word be "implicate"? Just to illustrate what my friend taught me at that small session beside my computer. Thank you friend.


Meanwhile let me come to what I was about to report about the novel. Yes, I am on my last stretch. That doesn't mean I am hurrying. I am taking it slow and deliberate. So, shall we say, watch this space.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Visit to Kerala

My return journey coincided with Gandhi Jayanti and I saw students at this station cleaning the platform. Quiet touched!