25 August 2010

Copyediting the Mother Ship

So, anyone who's been to a Fantasycon in the last few years might recall seeing my mum around. (She'd be the one that deals with con-running problems by being a weird combination of sensible, sane, calm, collected, diplomatic and pleasant to deal with. Unlike yours truly who tends to morph into a snappish bitchy bossy headless-chicken of a control freak...)

Um, yeah, anyway, so mum, being a woman of many talents (with a tendency to neither speak of them or generally accept that she has them) had a book published three or four years ago. 'twas non-fiction and was a helpful guide to tenants (with many wild and wacky tales of life in lettings) so that peeps not get royally screwed over by many and various when renting. It went to about three reprints before it was remaindered, but she was quite chuffed with it, what with the walking into WHSmiths and seeing it in the wild. :-)

And now she's finished writing her second book: a guide to self employment for Inventory Clerks, full of more wild and wacky tales to help the newbie Inventory Clerk with those tricky challenges that arise when you just get started in the biz.*

The book was commissioned by the training department of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, so it's a bit of an extreme niche subject and won't be going mass market, but it plays into her two expert subjects as a) she's been an Inventory Clerk for over twenty years and b) this is the woman who has spent most of her life running many other successful home businesses while wrangling children and aged relatives in varying degrees of health and still managed to keep a sense of humour. (And is not only the primary household earner, but singlehandedly built up the current business so that all the immediate family plus a few other peeps are gainfully employed in it... Did I mention my mum's the awesome?**)

All of which means I get to have fun doing the proofreading/copyediting thing for her, which, apart from being a bit brain-bleeding from having to read it fifteen squillion times and badger her for rewrites, is proving most interesting with regards to comparing shared writing quirks. Like the excessive use of 'of course', 'though' and 'however', and the instinctive habit of scattering en-dashes like confetti. (Punctuation? Nah. Stick a '-' there! Honestly, I thought it was just me that did that. But no. Tree. Apple. Not falling that far. She has, so far, avoided my excessive 'so' habit...)

And, oh, the dropped plot points! (Er, I suppose technically, as it's non-fiction it should be something along the lines of topics of discussions raised but not followed through on...) Apparently we are both easily distracted by shiny new ideas.

The other interesting thing I'm also noticing is the difference between her fiction voice and her non-fiction voice. Her fiction (cosy crime for long & contemporary ghost stories for short) tends to be written in a somewhat quaint voice. Exactly the tone you'd expect from an aged aunt or something written many many decades ago. Her non-fiction, however, is punchier and deliciously snarky. And fun. Goodness, yes. Now there's my kick-ass mum. :-)


*Like: what do you do if you're in a house you thought was empty and discover a naked man wandering about on the landing. Or how to gently explain to a landlord what those pretty plants under the heat lamps really are. Or the lost art of staying calm and continuing to talk sensibly to a tenant when a Bloody Great Rat has launched itself onto your leg and despite shaking and kicking of said leg, will Not. Jump. Off! Or fleas.#

#Oh god, the fleas. We're talking mega-colony epic quantities here, where you discover them not by the odd random itchy/crawly sensation, but by glancing down and sudenly noticing that your clothes are covered by a layer of black hopping things desperately trying to find the nearest bit of nekkid skin to chow down on. And, of course, you can't just walk out of the house. Oh no. You have to finish the job. But talking faster and staying in constant motion in the offchance that you can outrun the rest of the little buggers.

**Actually, several blog posts could be written on how awesome she is. This is the woman whose general policy is: if you want to do something just go do it; nothing's impossible. And she does. Over and over. The woman is totally fearless and has more energy than the rest of us put together. All hail the mum! Huzzah! (No, she didn't pay me to say that.)

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