Being the Customer: 2013 365 Challenge #179

When will I ever get a walk?

When will I ever get a walk?

I made my decision regarding a proofreader today, and it was really hard!

Everyone picked up my planted typos and there were certain phrases that most of them highlighted as awkward. Apart from that, the punctuation was really subjective. One person favoured em-dashes, another highlighted spliced commas, which I only recently learned existed as a result of a comment on Twitter leading me to this post (thanks, Rinelle!)

In the end it came down to two, mostly on gut feel for what the relationship would be like, as there was so little to choose with the editing. One presented findings as ‘change this’, one presented them as ‘maybe change this’. Part of me thought the former might be more experienced (bearing in mind the comment about getting inexperienced proofreaders for a low budget). Then I realised the ‘maybe’ approach would suit me better.

One person justified the text and said ‘should be justified’. My immediate response was, ‘not for an ebook, thanks.’ One person commented on my first paragraph indentation being wrong at only 0.01 – again an ebook formatting convention. These weren’t deal-breakers, they just made me realise I don’t like being told I’m wrong, when I think I’m not (I know, I’ll learn!). I prefer the gentler approach. As this is my first foray into editing and proofreading – and I have yet to grow that extra layer of skin – I thought, why not be gentle on myself, if it’s going to get the same results.

Anyway, decision made. Finally, I can visit Catherine, Caffeinated’s site again and not feel like a bad person! All I have to do now is get through my final 40 pages by Sunday, having lost my editing time today to choosing a proofreader! 🙂

Time to walk the dog. She’s been waiting patiently all day (and now it’s raining!)

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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Claire drove up to the hostel and felt a sliver of ice slide into her chest. Oh, God, I hope Kim isn’t going to be disappointed. The hostel didn’t look like a dream wedding location. The building loomed stark against a grey sky. It looked like the setting for Jane Eyre, or the main building of a severe boarding school.

With a sinking heart, Claire parked her car and headed for reception. She’d managed to book accommodation for the Friday night, to ensure there was no last-minute panic to get there in the morning.

“Checking in, please.”

The woman behind the desk dragged her hands through her hair and glanced up at Claire.

“Just a minute,” she said, and turned to the computer. “Just one night, is it? There’s a wedding here tomorrow.” Her voice suggested this was not a good thing.

“Yes, I know, I’m invited. I’m the maid of honour, actually.” Claire gave a grin. The lady nodded without smiling.

“You’re not the only guest who has come early. It isn’t making my job any easier.”

Claire found herself wanting to apologise. “I suppose there’s a lot to prepare, for a wedding.”

“That’s an understatement, although at least your friend hasn’t opted for a Medieval theme or any such nonsense. Nice and simple, how we like it.”

She retrieved Claire’s key and silently pointed her in the direction of her room. With a shrug, Claire decided to be forgiving. I wouldn’t want to try and organise a wedding with the property still full of guests.

Now she was inside the building, her misgivings faded away. The recent refurbishment was obvious and, while the place still bore all the marks of a YHA hostel, it had been renovated sympathetically. Wooden beams and exposed walls helped retain the feel of an Elizabethan Manor, despite the steel-framed bunk-beds. She’d been allocated a bed in a twelve-person dorm and she was surprised that the room didn’t feel crowded. Wooden floors and sunshine welcomed her in, and she chose a bed near the furthest window.

I wonder if I would get away with staying in here over the weekend, rather than sharing with Michael. She’d had plenty of time to regret letting Michael invite himself. As she gazed round the large shared dorm, the difficulty of allocating guest rooms now hit her, and she giggled at Kim and Jeff’s dilemma. Rather them than me. It could be a roudy event, if they’ve got it wrong.

Pleased to have the room to herself, Claire pulled out the paperback she’d grabbed at the last hostel and settled down to read.

*

Claire closed her book and decided to head to the lounge to complete her blog post. The phone call from Roger the day before kept echoing through her mind. On the surface, flying half way round the world seemed nothing but a crazy idea. It’s winter over there, too. May is a time to be in England, going to barbecues and sitting on wine bar terraces drinking G&T. The beaches were unlikely to be hot or sunny, although somewhere in the back of her mind she thought maybe Australia didn’t have harsh winters. She knew very little about either country.

Curling into the corner of the Chesterfield sofa, near the original stone fireplace, Claire found it hard to imagine what Antipodean hostels would be like. They won’t be in refurbished sixteen-century manor houses, that’s for sure.

With a guilty feeling that she should be writing her post, or thinking about the following day, Claire loaded up the internet and typed in, “YHA New Zealand.” She hovered over the hostels in the south, thinking they would be the warmest in the winter. The hostel in Catlins looked like a colonial house, sunny and inviting. Then Claire read the note saying the hostel was closed for the winter.

So, even in the south it’s cold in the winter. Then something murmured in her brain. It’s warm in the south here, but what about on the opposite side of the world. Would the north be the hot bit? Geography wasn’t a strong point, but her thought felt right.

Clicking on the northern-most hostel at Ahipara, her screen filled with pictures of long sandy beaches and royal-blue seas. A few more clicks revealed that the weather was still bearable, even in the depths of winter.

Lost in thought, Claire barely heard the footsteps approaching across the wooden floor. Shoes clicked, then came to a standstill next to the sofa. She heard a small cough, and a deep voice spoke.

“Hello, Claire. Planning a holiday?”

Claire flipped closed the iPad case, and turned to face the newcomer, swallowing a surge of irritation.

“Merely researching a writing project, Michael. What are you doing here?”

“Er, you invited me to a wedding?” Michael walked round and sat next to Claire on the sofa, relaxing into the seat with his right ankle pulled up on his left knee.

“I think you invited yourself, actually. And the wedding isn’t until tomorrow.”

Michael smiled, his face open, radiating sincerity. “I didn’t want to be late. Besides, you said I was to make myself useful.” He spread his arms wide. “Here I am.”

Claire was conscious of a frown pulling at her forehead as she felt her peaceful evening slipping away. “Kim isn’t arriving until tomorrow morning – she has rehearsals this evening.”

“Yes, I wondered about that. How come they’re getting married all of a sudden, when she is working so hard.” Michael’s face remained impassive, but Claire felt his curiosity. She had no intention of giving the real reason. Kim hadn’t sworn her to secrecy, but she knew few people were aware of the pregnancy, particularly Kim’s boss.

“This place came available at short notice.” She gazed round at the period fixtures, the grandeur of the great hall. “Who wouldn’t grab it with two hands?”

“You?” Michael met her eyes, and there was an intensity burning deep in his gaze.

Claire’s stomach squirmed and she dragged her gaze away. Silence spread between them like dry ice, suffocating, using up the oxygen. She felt a strong urge to flee the room, get in the Skoda and keep driving. Then her tummy gurgled, the sound resonating like an angry monster growling in rage.

Michael sniggered, and the tension snapped. “Hungry?”

Looking up with a rueful expression on her face, Claire sighed and shrugged. “Starving.”

“Then let’s eat.”

Michael led her to the dining room, with Claire following meekly behind

***

2 thoughts on “Being the Customer: 2013 365 Challenge #179

  1. Yay on deciding on a proofreader! I agree, I don’t think I would have gone with the people who commented on margins and justification either. Seems a little strange to me, when the book probably isn’t formatted at this point anyway?

    • It’s interesting that most who applied were new to fiction. I imagine it is different to proofreading business documents or websites. I think it will be a learning process for both of us. In the end you do get what you are prepared to pay for and at least I don’t have to do that final tedious read through for typos!

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