Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Nothing good to say today

Well, I'm back at work, while Nanjo experiments with acids and alkalines and while Tiger plants sweetcorn, Shark plants leeks and Squirrel plants carrots. That all sounds much better fun than I'm having in the office.

The work that I do is depressing, tedious, and uninspiring. I check the copy and setting on academic books. This torture is made a whole lot worse when some of the obscure academics we deal with believe themselves and their books to be of such vital significance to the world that they also probably believe I do nothing but wait for their book to come in, dribble with joy when it arrives, then typeset it lovingly, probably handcrafting each line.

If anything happens in the process that the author doesn't like, they go bonkers. One author, let's say for the sake of argument that his initials are F.R.I.M., used 1500 words in an email telling me how 'incompetant' I am. I changed his z spellings to s in accordance with house style; I took off his bold italic which he uses when he wants to shout at the reader and, crime of the century, I removed his CAPITAL LETTERS.

This sent Mr Frim into a fit. He probably hasn't recovered yet. He's probably still foaming at the mouth somewhere while his family have to pelt him with fruit to calm him down.

Now I'm not going to be vengeful, because the blog shouldn't really be used like that, should it? Of course not. I'll just say that Mr Frim sent in three copies of the same article, all different. That was the first crime. The second crime was 47 diagrams, all unpublishable on a book format and on the page dimensions we work with. The third crime was seventeen pages of references on his article, none of which were submitted in the style requested. And his final crime is calling me 'incompetant'. And if I am, in any spelling, only I'm allowed to say so.

It all starts when he gets the first proofs. Oh dear. He sees all the 'theorizing' and 'analyzing' has become 'theorising' and 'analysing' and the foaming starts. 'I want my z's!' he cries. And when he's in full flow what with the bold italic having gone, he spots no capital letters on his favourite words. But what pushes him over into the 1500 word attack, which liberally uses words like 'incompetant' and 'inadequate' and 'pointless'? The design of his pages uses a space above the A-heads. Can you imagine? Space above the headings?! Mr Frim is outraged. He says this is a 'Waste of space when space is needed!'

So I think we should set a special heading style for Mr Frim. One with no space near it, or anywhere around. And all the space we save, we should put on a piece of paper and post it to him, so that he can use it later for something important.

This is what I deal with. Academics like Mr Frim who, for the past few years, have systematically set about destroying any design intelligence that has been brought to their books and who have undermined any attempt to present their ideas to new readers in a coherent, accessible way.

Well, I'm having my revenge, silently. The one thing an author wants is to be read. Without that, there's no point. So I'm making these pages of academic journals very uncomfortable to read indeed. I'm not saying how; that's one of the typesetter's secrets. But I hope the readers fall off along the way.

And the one consolation from this work session, apart from knowing that I'm preparing tombstones of text, is that I'll be able to pay for the swimming, the horse-riding, the petrol to the art sessions, and some shoes.

Of course we can scrap that last idea. Dig tells me that Gordon put up the corporation tax for small businesses, so the shoes can go and we'll pay the government that money instead. Thanks, Gordon. Perhaps I could come round and borrow a pair of yours when the ones I'm wearing drop from my feet.

You see, I told you, there's nothing good to say today.

3 comments:

Michelle said...

"I changed his s spellings to z".

Wasn't it the other way round?

You're not incompetent at all.

And yes, you may pull my blog apart too. Lots of mistakes in mine. I aim to irritate ;-)

Hope to see you soon. Will endeavour to be more supportive . . .

Michelle said...

i want to delete that comment and it won't let me. grumble grumble. going to bed now.

grit said...

yup, good proof reader, i'll change it now! i think it shows how sick and tired i am of the whole XXXX business right now!