Yesterday, I watched snow fall outside my window all day as I worked on author review for a nonfiction project. I love snow. (I know, I know—there are a lot of people who don’t want to hear that at this point in this particular winter, but it’s true.) The nonfiction project was one I’d fallen behind on earlier this year, and we were finally bringing it home. As I watched the snow pile up outside, I went through page after page of changes, comments, and queries in the nonfiction book.
The editing/revision phase is very different for technical nonfiction than it is for fiction. For fiction, I receive a letter from my editor that outlines aspects of the novel that need work—large-scale changes and small adjustments both. It’s up to me to crack open the manuscript file and figure out how to implement the editor’s suggestions.
In nonfiction, the editor turns on Word’s Track Changes feature and goes to work on the file I sent in. When I get it back, there are lots of changes to the text and lots of comments and questions in the margins. I have to go through, read the changes, respond to the comments, answer the questions. I also have to answer queries from technical reviewers who check the accuracy of my text. I’ve worked with anywhere from one to four tech reviewers on a nonfiction book–this recent project had two. It’s a lot of work to go through each chapter when three different people are responding to it. Everyone is trying to make the book better, but when you’ve got three people searching for problems and issues, it can be hard to keep pushing through and addressing them, one after another after another…
So no wonder by the time I finished yesterday, seven inches of snow had piled up on the ground.
I’d worked ten hours, but I pulled on my boots, grabbed a snow shovel, and got to work clearing off the sidewalk. We live on a corner, which is great for three-quarters of the year, but a big snowstorm gives me a real workout. The snow was coming down pretty hard still, and when I finished 45 minutes later, I looked like a snowman and had ice in my hair—and a half-inch of new snow covered the place where I’d started.
When I looked out the back door this morning, it almost looked as though I hadn’t bothered last night. We’d gotten just over a foot (and it was still coming down). Out I went again, snow shovel in hand. This time, it took an hour an a half to do the job, mostly to deal with the mountain ridge of heavy snow that the snowplow had deposited at the end of our driveway. (At least the road was clear!)
It’s been a lot of work, but I’m all dug out. The snow has stopped. The sidewalk is clear. The nonfiction project is finished. It feels like a whole new day. On to whatever’s next!