Sunday, September 6, 2009

Manuscript 2

Morning tea, again. I am going through the corrected manuscript of The Finger: A Handbook and am beginning to piece together tiny flecks of detail about my meticulous purple critic and companion. He or she—the gender is unclear at this stage—turns out to be Scottish, alert to the misuse of the word England where Britain should more properly stand. Actually, it’s not always the case that this was an egregious error on my part, unlike that confusion over the sting versus the bite of an ant. Because sometimes I really did mean England, notwithstanding the Act of Union, but somehow it doesn’t really seem worth the effort to explain in jade green pencil what I was originally getting at. The fact that it’s not entirely clear to my copy editor means that it almost certainly won’t be to any general reader, so, that being the case, it’s far better to accept the amendment with good grace. To some extent this is the overriding obligation of the author, and besides: Resistance is futile. My copy editor is also a little sensitive in respect of a small point I made somewhere about how the sensible remarks in respect of infantile thumb-sucking that were made in a letter to the editor of The Times from the doughty Scottish matron of a public school in Wales, are especially charming if you imagine them uttered with an especially strong accent; all I can do is to assure him or her that this was meant as a genuine compliment. I wonder if that will be enough to save that portion of the relevant sentence; perhaps it ought to go. At this stage other people are much better equipped to make the necessary call.


  1. The entry's graphic made me wince a wee bit at the notion that one's urge for precision had been taken as having some nationalist prompting. I prefer to think of it as analogous to the trained ear being more sensitive to the bum note. By the way, I do appreciate your kind words about the work.

    The Purple Pencil

  2. What a pleasure finally to meet you, even if only in this virtual environment. Thank you for all your hard work!