Yesterday I received two sets of proofs for forthcoming stories, and today I read and returned them to the editors. It’s usually a painful process for me to read proofs because after an editor accepts a piece for publication, the story becomes better, in my mind, than it ever was, in my mind, before. And the arrival of the proofs usually hearkens the first time I read the story since it has transformed so thoroughly in my mind. Proofs, then, are the pudding?
(Wait, what does it mean that the proof is in the pudding? Ah, love the Internet: the “proof is in the pudding” is a shortening and corruption of the idea that the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. So this fits: the proof of the story is in the reading of the proofs. The proofs are the pudding!)
But this is not about whether my perception of my stories changed while reading proofs (for the stories stay the same, it’s usually just my perception of them that changes). I found that I enjoyed reading the proofs today because they gave me renewed appreciation for the publishing process and for the collaborative nature of it.
One story, “When To Hold,” is in a forthcoming anthology, Commutability, from Main Street Rag press (click to order!), and the entire document with everyone’s stories was circulated. It was cool to see all the titles and contributors’ bios (and even photos), and to read the editors’ introduction, and to know we were all going to be part of this thing, this book about journeys and traveling and coming and going.
The other set of proofs was for a lyrical nonfiction piece, “Students Die, and What Is Poetry?” forthcoming in Third Coast. It was fun to see my Word doc turned into a PDF of polished book pages, and to know that once again, my work would be wedged between that of other writers, intimate strangers. It reminds me of being at a concert and standing closer than you ever would to strangers, but you’re somehow less than strangers because you share a love for the music.