Random thoughts while proofing galleys

• My desk is covered with green erasure shavings. (Erasure is white. Pencil is green. Therefore erasure shavings -- little tiny rubber short-hair-like things -- are green.)

•I still like the book! Yay! But wait: This has never happened to me before. I usually think it's crap by the time I'm finished (and that's the appropriate word). But this time, I still like it. Is this good? Or is this bad? Well, I'll tell you what -- no matter what the critics think, it's NICE to like the book. And I really like the end. Yay! I like the end!

•Word repetition: It is amazing to me how some words can only be used once in an entire novel. There are just words that stand out, and if someone is a careful reader this kind of things bug them. Other words can be repeated say, twice. And other, smaller words, just can't be used on the same page. But good gravy, I can think of nothing worse than thinking about this when I'm just beginning to write something. I wouldn't be able to write a thing!

• It's also amazing to me that I didn't notice some of these repetitions. (There is nothing as humbling as being read by a really good reader who has a pencil in hand -- a copyeditor is that sort of reader.) But I think when your head is in a book, it IS truly hard to see things. 

• What is on my foot? Oh good gravy, the entire floor is covered with little green rubber sheddings...

•Back to the copyedited notes on the galley: It seems like THIS is the perfect time to get to this level of detail, and it strikes me how often I WANT to be dealing with word repetion, word choice, and all of those tiny particulars in the beginning. I want this because I am afraid of the big, word-y mess I'm making in the beginning. But the beginning is not the time for neatness. The time for dealing with things like word repetition is when the book is done. The sections of the story are all in the right place. I've thought through the characters and created a setting, a landscape. At the beginning, I need to be messy. At the end, I need to tidy up. If I do this tidying at the beginning, I'm only fidgeting with the wind because I have no idea what's important. You should see the beautiful writing I've had to cut out of my books -- simply gorgeous, splendid writing gone. Sigh.  

• You guys know I've got a yoga mat in my office, right? I do because with jobs like these -- where I get very focused and forget to move -- it's good for me to get up and do some yoga moves. Well, I did downward dog and guess what dropped off me like rubbery rain? Erasure shavings. 

April 4, 2012, I sent the galleys back to Knopf. My part in the book officially over (except for promotion). More on the promotion stuff soon...