After all, what’s the fun in that? The creative process is over, or at least mostly over. All that’s left is making sure there are no spelling errors, no required words are missing, singular and plural alignments properly match, punctuation is right, the correct word is used, awkward wording is improved, and a host of other potential sins are averted.
Yes, I hate it, but it’s essential. I’m reminded of that every day when I read the local newspaper. I believe there was a time when newspapers employed folks to proofread all that was printed. Maybe they actually enjoyed the task because rarely did a blunder occur. Alas, the internet, abetted by such popular “news” sources as FaceBook and Twitter, has dampened enthusiasm for the printed word, forcing staff cutbacks.
It’s all too noticeable. Those rare instances of errors have been replaced by daily occurrences. And much of it is shocking. I have observed misspellings, adjacent repeats of the same word, and words missing to name but a few. There also has been the same story appearing twice in the same edition, and even twice on different days. I don’t blame the folks at the newspaper. They’re doing the best they can with the limited resources available. But I worry that we are establishing a new standard of sloppiness that bodes ill for the future.
I’m a mathematician, and before then I was an electrical engineer. Both (in fact any branch of science) require precision—in the work itself and the written words describing it in professional reports and journals. It’s essential that the proofreading of such articles be meticulous. Often I co-author papers and the two of us read them many times. I’m always amazed what my partner finds that I’ve missed, and vice versa.
Reading a 10-page research paper is different from reading a 400-page novel. Proofreading dangers exist in either.
With the paper the problem is I know the material so well that I tend to read what I think is on the page rather than what is really on the page. This is partially offset by the shortness of the document which makes it realistic to peruse it a multitude of times.
With the novel I don’t see how I can proofread it without actually going through the entire document. And that requires a large time commitment. I find I can’t skim or I will miss errors. I must read it slowly, concentrating on the task, else I get caught up in the story and again miss problems. So, for me, it’s unrealistic to go through the book more than three or four times, and once I’ve done that I can’t stand the thought of doing it again.
I do have wonderful people who agree to edit my books and they add additional levels of proofreading as part of their job. And they find plenty of errors.
I envy established authors published by regular houses, as I’m sure they have professional proofreaders.
In spite of great care, errors slip by even the most rigorous inspections. I’m finding more and more instances in professionally published works. And in my own, in spite of my diligent efforts, problems slip through.
My research area of mathematics is graph theory, a subdiscipline of a branch called discrete mathematics. The word “discrete” is emblazed in my mind from decades of involvement. The problem arose from one of my characters who was being “discreet.” You guessed it. Turns out he was being “discrete!” Poor guy, broken into pieces!