Saturday, July 29, 2006

Chasing Perfection

I’m coming up to the final stretch of copy-editing work on Players. After that, the manuscript will be checked over at the publishers, and then it will go off to the printers. When I get a set of proofs, I’ll have a last chance to correct infelicities, repeated words, howlers and simple spelling mistakes before the book goes into production. Almost inevitably, some mistake or other will get through; you can chase perfection as long as you like, in the company of your editor, sub-editor, copy-editor, friends . . . but it's like Zeno's paradox. You can only approach the target in ever smaller increments, you can never reach it.

You might think that poets have it easier - their books, after all, usually contain far fewer words than the average short story, let alone a novel. But as Don Paterson notes in a day-in-the-life article in the Weekend Guardian, they have to watch out for a special horror - inadvertent acrostics formed by the first letters of succeeding lines. On the other hand, he’s able to read his poems line by line backwards to ferret out glitches; just try doing that with a novel. I dare you.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Caveat Emptor

These people claim to have one of the guitars once owned by legendary Blues singer Robert Johnson (thanks to Steve Baxter for the tip, and Jack Womack for the link). Frankly, I think they need to provide little more provenance than ‘it looks like the one in the photograph’ before they get their $6000000.
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