Friday, April 16, 2010

Flower Fairies and Copy Edits


A spring card from my daughter.

The Flower Fairies were the the creation of illustrator Cicely Mary Barker. In addition to their gentle magic and enduring charm, her drawings are noted for their botanical accuracy.

I believe the dainty daffodils depicted here are of the type called "poet's narcissus."

Years ago on a ramble this daughter and I discovered flowers struggling against scrub and litter and stone near a tumbled and overgrown foundation on a long abandoned farm. We rescued a few bulbs and they have flourished in my garden ever since.

Each of my girls has a flower as part of their name -- and so each has their own flower fairy.

* * *

After a day of (the following is NOT a link)#%%&##!!!&***&@@$$%###@!!!@ and QUERTY -- all due to my technical incompetence and/or my computer's malicious habit of hiding files in obscure places, lying about their location and accessibility and then refusing to share the results correctly, I finished and sent off my copy edits.

Many edits revolved around punctuation, particularly commas -- my inconsistency in use or my deviation from house style.

She caught a mis-spelling that had evaded the eagle eyes of both my editor and me (mantel/mantle), an improper choice between discrete/discreet, and an instance where I had lost the final "e" in St. Claire.

Corrupted and imprinted by early memorization of lines from Scott's The Lady of the Lake (And faint from further distance borne...) I also have the bad habit of using further in place of farther.

About our only disagreement involved hyphens. I dislike the modern style of smashingwordstogether. For instance, cooperate in place of co-operate gives me actual pain.

While I acceded to many hyphen removals (gladly in many cases, because at heart I really don't like hyphens all that much) I drew the line at hyphen-loss in some words on the basis of reader recognition. Without a hyphen, a reader might absorb an entirely different word than the one intended, or suspect a typo, or think I was sticking them with some obscure new term. For example, what do you see skimming along past the word megadryers?

Annoying readers by making them stop and parse a word is Not A Good Thing.

But I am going to have to speak to Lillie about her prefix habit so to avoid this problem in the future. However, the fact is, without a hyphen, some words just look silly.

Except for my technical problems, I found this stage easy and painless also; and the hard-working copy editor, bless her heart, told Editor Guy she enjoyed the story and hopes to see a sequel.

30 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

Those flower fairies are so sweet.

I'm sorry to hear that your naughty computer wasn't playing nicely with you but at least the edits are done.

BernardL said...

Thank you for a very informative editing update.

writtenwyrdd said...

I believe we agree on the hyphen usage. I try not to use them where it's accepted--and generally I'll refer to my Chicago Manual of Style or an on-line dictionary to see if with or without is more acceptable. but sometimes, like your example, you need a hypen for clarity's sake.

When it's important, editors, I understand, like you to explain why you don't want to follow their changes. If it makes sense, you can usually win, I'd assume.

Glad you got that all done.

Re flower fairies, I just purchased a pile of books containing 19th and early 20th century illustrations--Beardsley, Rackham, Mucha, etc. in particular Deco, Nouveau styles or what was in fairy tale collections.

That's the style I want to try and emulate for some envisioned projects. And some of them come with clip art on CD! Woot!

But I just get all drooly looking at the old illustrations. They are supremely gorgeous!

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like you actually moved through these pretty quickly, though. I have an issue with commas. I use too many for the modern sensibilities, but I believe they need to be there despite that.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Fairy. I suspect though the real source of the computer problem is me!
It becane insulted when I didn't click somewhere where I should have clicked.

Copy editing is mostly discovering where you screwed up, Bernard.

Written,I'm of the opinion the sun will rise tomorrow, whether my preferences are accepted or not.
Your hoard sounds lovely!Didn't Rackham do Alice in Wonderland?
I have a book on botanicals by Victoria women illustrators I must blog about sometime.

Bernita said...

Took me five to six hours, Charles.
Then I had to do it all again when it wouldn't transmit properly.
Like you, I learned the old rules. Inconsistency came about when I tried to combine old rules and new. Not smart.

laughingwolf said...

one that REALLY bothers me: noone, for no-one! GRRRRRRRRRRRRR

i get stuck many times between en- and em-dash use

i'm with charles on the comma usage, too often, for my liking, they are left out these days...

raine said...

Love the flower rescue story, and the card. Charming is the word, yes.

I also have the bad habit of using further in place of farther.

Ditto.
Good to hear the work went so easily, Bernita (and computers will get gremlins at the worst times!).
Must confess to getting the occasional tic under my left eye when following house style that conflicts with my regular rules, but it passes quickly. ;)

And I am also hoping for a sequel. :)

Bernita said...

I was taught the serial comma, LW. Guess what?
I consider n and m dashes as mechanical, not grammatical.
Didn't argue with CE over anything she did with them. As a matter of fact I approved all punctuation, now that I think of it.


Her images are so gentle and innocent and sweet.
Raine, we found some grape hyacinths too on that trek.
I have about, oh, 12-15,000 words of a sequel, but it seems I'm one of those with whom being "stoned" ( on oxycodone) doen not inspire creativity.

laughingwolf said...

ack! you're right, it is a mechanical thing... d'oh!

Lana Gramlich said...

That's very cool about your daughters' names. :)

writtenwyrdd said...

I was on oxy after my recent surgery and was glad to only take it three days. Stuff makes you just want to loaf about--speaking of flowers-- like a lotus eater!

jason evans said...

I'm thankful we gave up hyphenating broken words at the end of sentences, a la typwriter days. I remember how the DOS word processors still did it.

Angie said...

I loathe house-style commas -- I think I use too many, actually, and was trying to cut back when I started publishing with TP and they add more. [headdesk]

In a way it's a good thing, though; I grumble but I'm not really willing to squawk commas, except when adding one changes my meaning. But leaving their bazillion comma additions makes me feel a bit better about squawking other things I am willing to go to the mat for.

And as WW said, my editors have always been willing to discuss things, and usually give me things I want enough to argue for. The real problem is when I don't get to see the manuscript between proofreading and publication. [headdesk] I've had changes I negotiated with my editor pop back up after proofing, and/or other things I disagreed with, but by the time I saw them it was too late. :/

Angie

Bernita said...

Lana, the nicest thing is that they are happy with their names.Having a fairy is a nice bonus though!

The stuff makes me slightly sick to my stomach, Written, as well as a bit stupified, but it does help me sleep.

Typewriter days...Jason, thank God, Bill Gates or whoever for computers.

Bernita said...

I just closed my eyes and approved the commas, Angie.
Their house, their style rules.
The way I see it, if readers gets upset about the occasional punctuation deviation, they're not really happy with the story, are not concentrating on the story, and are looking for extra things to complain about.
Thankfully, I did catch a couple of changes my editor and I agreed on that somehow didn't make it to the copy editor.

Angie said...

Their house, their style rules.

Very true, but I can still grumble about it, and occasionally argue if I think it's going to make me look stupid. [wry smile]

if readers gets upset about the occasional punctuation deviation, they're not really happy with the story, are not concentrating on the story, and are looking for extra things to complain about

Probably also true, but I can't help stressing out over it anyway. I'm sure your blood pressure is considerably lower than mine. :)

Angie

Natasha Fondren said...

I love copy edits to death. I'm particular about my commas, though. :-)

Bernita said...

"I'm sure your blood pressure is considerably lower than mine. :)"

HA! Angie, I just choose different stuff to bulge my eyes over!

Natasha,yes! An extra chance to dodge the bullet as i see it.I was quietly horrified over the mantel/mantle, discrete/discreet, for example, because I know better but these slipped past me just the same.

Gabriele C. said...

I can see your reason for keeping the hyphens or two word spelling, but coming from a language with very long words, megadryer is a nice, short one. :)

In Germany, publishers don't go by word count but by sign count, because German has words from 'ist' to 'Donaudampfschiffahrtskapitän'.

Bernita said...

Gabriele, 'Donaudampfschiffahrtskapitän' is one hell of a compound noun!

My basic concern is a hyphenless smash like "minimall" might be read a "minimal" - and a bewildered reader shrieking "WTF?"

Suzanne Perazzini said...

I'm another whose edits on all three books have included mainly commas. In the end, I told my editor to just add what she wanted and to leave me out of it.
It sounds like your edits were simple enough despite the computer woes.

Bernita said...

"...mainly commas. In the end, I told my editor to just add what she wanted and to leave me out of it."

Seems like good sense to me, Suzanne!

I admire your photo on your blog so much that I keep wondering if I can get away with a similar pose.

archer said...

Those oh-so-picky dehyphenators better not mess with any modifying phrases. I will send them a strongly worded letter. :-)

Bernita said...

Archer, you are without peer! I am so glad I found your blog way-back-when.

Asbestos Dust said...

I found my way here via Archer, who is one of the best I know in his genre/field/specialty/style.

I normally don't pay much attention to writing blogs, but I must say yours struck me. Whatever his faults, Archer has good taste.

You're linked (on my blog,) if you don't mind. You should know that I'm the extreme political opposite of Archer, although he has some unacknowledged anarchist roots which are not pure anathema.

But politics and social views prove to be a discomfort for some. If that's true for you, let me know, and I'll unlink, and will not take offense. I understand completely that I'm not everyone's cuppa, even at such a tenuous distance.

Though I'll keep reading you either way, if you please.

Bernita said...

Asbestos, I'm flattered.
I love Archer, I enjoy Archer, I read him with delight, and I expect I'll enjoy your blog.

"But politics and social views prove to be a discomfort for some. If that's true for you, let me know, and I'll unlink,"

This puzzles me. Whyinhell should I want you to unlink?
(Far more likely you'll unlink of your own accord because this blog's writing focus and lack of social/political commentary will strike you as unedifying blah...)

Bernita said...

BTW, I'm also a Libra and have sworn that if I live to be 80 I'm going to become an anarchist - I don't have time to be one right now.

Barbara Martin said...

Editing can be a pain to copy editors when they don't acknowledge that Canadians tend to spell differently than their neighbours to the south. And use different grammar.

This is a grand time for flowers coming up to reveal their pastel shaded petals.

Bernita said...

Barbara, except for here on the blog where I often let my "ou's" flourish, I try to use Yankee style in anything I send out.
It is annoying when they think stuff is wrong, rather than realizing it's just different.

Out of dead, dull bracken, spring flowers serve as small ressurections to my colour-starved eyes.