I Do Not Think That Means What You Think It Means

I’ve spent the last couple of months working with my publisher to prepare my forthcoming novel, The Muse, for pre-production review. It’s an interesting process, with lots of decisions to make about colors and fonts and margins, as well as the incessant editing and re-editing.

I’m pretty obsessive about grammar and typos, so when I go through a document the umpteenth time and find some minor glitch, it irritates me no end. At this point, we’re killing stupid little things like word-processor artifacts (would you like straight or curly quotes with that?), extra spaces after periods, and happy-to-glad sorts of word changes. Fortunately, that part is over, and we’re ready to convert the manuscript to a incredibly-realistic PDF image of what the final product will look like, something we can send out for review and comments, hopefully favorable comments that we can judiciously display on the back cover or flyleaf.

So, I was driving down the road last night after my first meeting with a writer’s club at my church, a group where people bring their works-in-progress to read aloud and exchange critiques. As I drove, I recited a bit of my novel’s first chapter out loud, rehearsing how it might sound at next month’s meeting.

Homophones are funny things. These are words that are spelled differently but sound alike. They may have very, very different meanings, like great and grate, for example.

To my horror, as I drove down the road merrily reciting my flawless prose, I realized that one of my characters had a name with a particularly unfortunate anatomical homophone (gee, it sounds awful even talking around it). The manuscript had been through at least seven readers, plus myself and my publisher, and nobody had yet noticed this. With my realization came the absolute certainty that some merry prankster would, sooner or later, discover this gaffe, and both I and my story would be the butt of jokes on the internet for all eternity.

I’m still not sure how I kept my car between the lines.

Anyhow, once I got back home, I dashed to my computer, fortunately found my publisher online and initiated a chat. She seemed a little mystified by my concern–I’m not sure if the word in question doesn’t translate  properly in Kiwi, or if she just doesn’t panic easily. We got the glitch fixed, and all’s right with the world again.

Until the next glitch.


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