Three-Ring Circus—Again!

January 1, 2017

Posted March 25, 2017

     3-ringI’ve been working on the copyedited manuscripts of Site Fidelity and A Gunthwaite Girl with Marney Wilde and Jennifer Davis-Kay—that is, I haven’t been “working,” I’ve been having fun.
     In 2012 I wrote a piece for my Web site about our work on the new edition of The Cheerleader. I called it “Three-Ring Circus,” my shorthand for the three-way copyediting conversation amongst Marney (Web master, book designer, and ringmaster in California), Jen (freelance copy editor in Massachusetts), and me in New Hampshire. I wrote that “When Marney and Jen and I found ourselves shooting e-mails back and forth discussing utterly absorbing (to us) questions, such as the changing styles in ‘a’ or ‘an’ before pronounced ‘h’s’ and italicizing the city in a newspaper’s title and should we stick to one ‘p’ in ‘hiccuped,’ we recognized that we were indeed copyediting nerds.”

     And now, through the Christmas season and various snowstorms, I’ve been at my computer going over Jen’s notes. For instance, I’ve been agreeing that we should disagree with Merriam-Webster and put a hyphen in “anti-nausea,” I’ve been applauding her meticulous research that discovered the correct “cat-eye” term for eyeglasses I was describing, and I’ve been laughing over how my using the word “circumspectly” reminded her of a Tom Swiftie.
     During this, Marney e-mailed me Nancy Pearl’s posting of a talk by Stacy Schiff at the 2016 Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant celebration. “What You Were Looking For in the First Place” entertainingly recounts the problems of writing nonfiction, and it was the perfect reading for me after my day’s work. Shoptalk! As I wrote in a Publishers Weekly piece to which I gave this one-word title, “Shoptalk can be fascinating even when the subject isn’t one’s own trade; when it is, it can be exhilarating.” And as I told Marney, reading about writing nonfiction brought back to me how, after I’ve worked on my father’s hiking books, I am so relieved to return to fiction!
     The shoptalk in Jen’s notes was exhilarating.
     Essayist Logan Pearsall Smith wrote, “The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.” I see what he meant, but there’s no drudgery, only fun, in this three-ring circus (hyphenated adjective before a noun).

© 2017 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved
Photo © 2017 by Don MacDougall

 

 

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