Sunday, 18 November 2012

The dream life of an editor

3 a.m. – this was real time, I think, because when I woke up (someone in the house coming home late) I looked at the clock and it was 3.30 a.m. A man standing outside WH Smiths in York (he must be cold, I think) phones to tell me that he’s disappointed in my editing of his book. A word misspelt (‘sanatorium’) and a misleading sentence involving a mathematical formula (nothing wrong with the formula itself, which involved square roots and brackets and xs and ys, but the way the sentence was phrased). I remember this man, a bit: we talked, around three years ago, about his book. I didn’t copy-edit it. What I did recently was a simple typesetting job, re-running the text of the hardback edition for the new A-format paperback, and editing was not involved. I explain that I haven’t even read the book, except for for checking for bad word breaks and the like, and besides, the mistakes must have been there in the original text. But it is still my fault, apparently. And now he won’t be able to get me teaching work at Morley College of Education. I tell him even if he did, I’m so busy at present that I wouldn’t be able to do that job, which takes some of the wind out his sails (this is first time, I think, that I have ever used that expression, in either writing or speech), but he still maintains that I am in the wrong and he is the right.

Later, after I go back to sleep, another dream, a much nicer one this time, in which I become more than intimate with a woman I used to work with in the early 1980s in the copy-editing department at Time-Life. Where has she suddenly arrived from?

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