You Know You’ve Been Proofreading Too Much When …

Atheling WIP cover 15
Slowly, but surely …

This week I have been working some long hours, trying to revise a minimum of one chapter a day for The Atheling. I’m up to chapter 20 of the 4th revisions, and you can see progress on the cover painting above. The main thing I’ve worked on for the cover art was the ship … putting details on it before shrinking it down as a layer to shift around. I think I like this composition, but I keep shifting the ship still. I move it below the moon and then next to the moon, below the moon, then back next to the moon, etc. Maybe once I start refining the clouds and sky, I will be able to make up my mind. I might make it smaller, too. Hm …

Manuscript-wise, I’ve shifted a few things and added a few things. Like I needed to add more words to my count, right? Well, I’m still going to try to make a major change at the end, so hopefully I will cut off enough there that the few additions in the front won’t matter.

As a writer, you know you’ve been proofreading too much when you begin to question your own ability to work with grammar. You know how that is, right? Like when you repeat a word enough times, it starts to sound weird … Or when you spell something right and it looks wrong, so you change it only to find out you had it right the first time? It’s been that kind of week for me.

I finally broke and looked up the grammar rules for hyphenated colour words because I kept staring at them peculiarly. Is it “dark-green eyes” or “dark green eyes”? I knew “emerald-green eyes” or “blue-green eyes” would be correct because using two nouns as one modifier is always hyphenated. And I knew “eyes of emerald green” would not be hyphenated because they are not followed by a noun. But for some reason words like “dark”, “light”, and “pale” started making me doubt myself. Visions of diagramming modifiers in English classes came back to haunt me. Is “dark” modifying “green” or “eyes”? Since “dark” isn’t a noun it wouldn’t be hyphenated … right? But since “dark green” could be considered the name of the color maybe it was a compound noun … right? … Does “broccoli” have two “c’s” or two “l’s”? Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Arrrgh!

Here is a link I found useful at Daily Writing Tips by Mark Nichol, “How to Punctuate Descriptions of Colors.” Of course, after I read it, I KNEW I was right all along. “Dark-green eyes …” But no other writing job numbs the mind quite like proofreading. And when proofreading 180K words four times or more …¬†sometimes it’s necessary to remind myself that I’m not terrible with grammar. And that tired minds are also responsible for putting the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the pantry … or walking into a room and standing there for five minutes trying to remember what I was looking for before giving up and walking back out.



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