There’s an 800 page manuscript sitting on my desk. It’s so very big. The biggest ms. I’ve ever had anything to do with. The enormity of it is paralysing me.

Daughters of Earth, my anthology of feminist sf stories and essays, has to be checked and made as perfect as possible in a terrifyingly short amount of time if we’re going to launch it at WisCon next year. I have to photocopy 11 essays to send to their authors to check. Then I have to read through and correct the whole thing.

I have four unsharpened red pencils. I have a sharpener. I have the Chicago Manual of Style. I have Scott’s moral support.

Wish me luck!


  1. janet on #

    Coffee helps.

  2. Justine on #

    Tragically, I can’t stand coffee. Or anything with caffeine in it. Friends suggest that being naturally, um, energised, I have no need of it. But I feel the need of something right now. Anyone got a monkey helper I could borrow?

  3. Maureen Kincaid Speller on #

    I sympathise; I’m currently in the throes of copy-editing a 1000+ page manuscript. I had to break it down into sections and just have them on my desk, one at a time, otherwise it was too overwhelming (it’s four inches thick, for heaven’s sake). Of course, I don’t suppose you have an excitable young cat hurling herself onto your work at regular intervals. I rather wish I didn’t. Chicago Style Manual seems to have nothing to say about that!

  4. janet on #

    Hmmm. Is it the caffeine itself, or the forms in which it generally manifests?

    I like Maureen’s idea of breaking up the task. You could try bribing youself with some sort of treat after you’ve worked for a certain amount of time or gotten a discrete amount done.

    There is nothing to be done about cats. Except pet them and toss them back onto the floor.

  5. Shelly Rae on #

    I have learned one thing by grading stacks and stacks of freshman composition papers. Don’t put it off.

  6. jonathan on #

    i feel for you. i once had to copyedit three 200,000+ word manuscripts in a week, and two of them were for different editions of the same book, so i feel your pain.

  7. Maureen Kincaid Speller on #

    Shelly Rae also has the right of it: I will know for sure I’m a real grown-up the day I stop putting off important things, like work. Still, at least I remembered to check the manuscript’s pagination immediately this time … it’s only taken me fifteen years to remember to do that immediately.

  8. Justine on #

    thanks so much, everyone, for all the sage advice. (Jonathan: how did you survive that week?) Sadly, b.e.a. got in the way of my taking any of it. must. start. copyediting. now. or at least follow Maureen’s advice and check the pagination . . . I’m so not a copyediting kind of girl. sigh. I don’t even like capitalisation!

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