It’s April, months after I handed my final manuscript for Cross My Heart in. Bless the editor who has just sent an email after she’s taken another final, final look through before the pages go to typesetting to ask if ‘stretch of woodland’ wouldn’t be better than ‘woodland’?
Plus several other tiny tweaks… and, by the way, do I like the new font they’ve picked out for the gravestones in the story?
This is why I love publishing and publishers. Where else does this relentless perfectionism, relentless attention to detail still exist? Writers, editors, copyeditors, proofreaders, we are all obsessive in our search for the exactly right words. We’re on a quest for extraordinary that only ends when the final crunch of the deadline stops us.
I’ve never worked harder to get a story right. I was dying to tell it. I found it the most challenging book ever to write but also the most deeply satisfying. I had to go the extra mile for this story because it is inspired by real people and real events and I had to do them justice. I’ll explain more about that in future posts.
Due to maternity leave and people moving job this story has had four editors. All have brought real insight, a great deal of thought, care and attention to the job, realizing what an important project it is for me.
Cross My Heart has also had an eagle-eyed copyeditor. She was the word dentist, poking about my story with a sharp pick, checking for any tiny signs of weakness.
A German speaker was found to check my snippets of German grammar, a classicist to read over the small Latin extract. Another proofreader has made several final combs for mistakes the rest of us may have missed.
Altogether we’ve probably read this story far too many times, tweaked and re-tweaked sentences that were probably OK-ish in the first place and obsessed about tiny details which readers might never, ever notice.
When you pick up this book, as I hope you will, you’ll be holding a completely original, highly crafted piece of work in your hands. If it was an item of clothing, it would be a beautifully hand-knitted jumper with an intricate Fair Isle pattern of many colours or highly detailed Aran cables.
I don’t know if this is the right way to work in the 21st century when people are texting, tweeting and self-pubbing their mis-spelled stream of consciousness. Maybe we are still crazily trying to stitch a tapestry by hand when everyone else is machine knitting in acrylic.
But then again, if everyone else did their jobs as lovingly, carefully, thoughtfully and deeply creatively as everyone who has worked on this story, the world would be an incredible place. Maybe we would be poorer in many ways – no hasty burgers or mis-stitched T-shirts – but maybe we’d be so much richer in others.
So my heartfelt thanks to team Cross My Heart, for caring so much – way above and beyond the call of duty.