Welp, I sent the PDFs of the book sections out to the proofreaders/fact-checkers late last night. I re-read some of the book today. I think it's going to be good. Here's why I think that: every time I re-read different sections, I laugh, or get chills, or feel moved. I'm still responding this way after multiple readings, after digging through guidebooks and reference books and checking and re-checking place names, mileages, Chicago Manual of Style guidelines, etc. After searching-and-replacing to get rid of all instances of "the the," "and and," "Appalachian Trial," extraneous thats, and the like. After months suggesting and approving revisions and rearrangings, word choice changes, paragraph combinings, heading formats, and a bunch of other things. Sigh. It was so much fun. Really. It really was. (Does this mean I am a born editor? Because I enjoyed this?)
Normally, I can't stand to read the final versions of something I've had a hand in writing. I don't read the press releases I send to the paper. I don't read my little essays that have been published here and there. I've never sat down to read my own book, 50 Hikes in Louisiana. When I do read something I've written, my response is a mix of disappointments and inner groans. "Oh, why did I word it that way? I shouldn't have included that sentence. How could I have confused precarious and vicarious? How did the editor miss that? I am such an idiot!"
But I haven't been responding that way with "The Ordinary Adventurer." Granted, it's not my book, but I've played a role in it as editor. Enough of a role that I feel some sense of ownership, of responsibility. As editor, I am responsible for ensuring the book is a smooth read. So I was exceedingly critical this morning as I re-read bits and pieces of the PDFs that we sent out for final read-throughs.
And I just kept smiling. I am so proud of Jan for sticking with this, and I'm so happy that I could be a part of it.