- The day's work
- December 5th, 18:17
The bulk of today, and the half of yesterday too, I spent fixing up an OCR'd scan of an old story, for the collection incipient from Lethe Press. Only 8.5K words, and yes: I could have typed it clean in half the time, given the mess it was. But scanned it we had, and fix it I was going to, and so I did. With occasional, inevitable tweaks: theoretically I might well believe that stories should be reprinted as they originally appeared, to speak to the author-of-the-moment rather than being revised to speak to the author-of-now; in actuality, I can't help fiddling. Just a little, just a semicolon elided into a full stop here, a comma smitten there. The occasional twitch of a word, or the balance of a sentence; almost all to do with sound and rhythm, almost never meaning. I think that's legit.
What's interesting, though, is what endures. The scan muddled so much so deeply that I had to keep referring back to the original for words, for runs of words, for whole missing phrases; the story was written long enough ago that I barely remembered the shape of it, certainly none of the language; and yet most of those gaps I could have filled in without recourse to the printed copy, and got them right almost every time. Voice is inherent, I guess. If I start a sentence thuswise, more likely than not it's going to wind hereabouts and end up over there. Much is implicit, and much is common; much is apparently inevitable. Who knew?