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September 2017

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The Perils of Editing

I heard a story about some people who tried to publish a book with no errors. They checked and double checked everything. They wanted to be able to say that this one book didn't have a single error in it. After it was published they found a typo on the cover page.

The point is that after a while you just have to stop and let it go. I can sit and edit for hours, until my hip hurts and my blood sugar drops and I can't think straight anymore, but there will always be "one more thing" that I can do. And that doesn't even count adding new recipes.

I've been updating the index. BIL David asked for every recipe to be indexed by name. It's a simple request. So, if I have a recipe for Chili do I enter it twice? once under the recipe name "Chili", and then again under the subject "Chili" sub-header "Chili"?

I should have been a Librarian.

Anyway. First I have to go through and mark all the words I want indexed, and how I want them indexed. Then I have to generate the index. Then I have to check the index for obvious errors. and fix those errors. Then generate the index again and check it again.

Just marking the entries took about eight hours. I'm lucky Word generates indexes. In the old days people had to hand mark all the words then write down and alphabetize the index themselves. When Word does it I don't have to worry if I've moved an entry and does the index list the right page anymore.

I'm amazed that anyone indexed books before computers! (Although not surprised that they indexed the Bible)

So, I'm taking a break. I'm exhausted from finding so many things that could be better. I'm not sure if that makes me a perfectionist or just really bad at editing. Is a perfectionist someone who gets things right or just someone who wants things to be right?

Comments

Take a break. I've had documents that were scrutinized by technical editors, technical staff, and everyone under the sun--and there was still an error (sometimes introduced when another error was removed). At some point you have to step back and breathe.