Learning Curve

This blog was originally posted here.

I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to land an internship with Saraband. Cream of the UK indie publishing world in 2016; perhaps due to a book called His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Man-Booker-shortlisted title?! (If you haven’t already, go read it; it’s wonderful.)

Saraband logo - name with red rose

This internship involved mostly working from home, which has benefits (working in pyjamas! No travel!) and drawbacks (not so easy to ask for guidance, written instructions are more open to interpretation than face-to-face). Plus, as it is my very first internship, it would have been nice to have an office presence. On the other hand, I ultimately want to be a freelancer, so having the experience of motivating myself from home is invaluable, as well as learning to communicate in that instance.

The task I learned the most from was one of the novels I proofread. It was a new, unpublished manuscript and I carefully read through it and marked off all the things I believed should be changed using MS Word Track Changes and sent it back quite satisfied with myself. After some time, I received an email: could I check all the proposed changes had been made to this manuscript when it was typeset? There it was. A shockingly long list of things I’d missed that another proofreader had picked up.

Some were genuine mistakes, like ‘proceed’ instead of ‘precede’. Others were changes I would not have made. For example, ‘carpark’ I had left as one word. It was now changed to two words. After looking it up, (I live to find out small details like that. No seriously. My mom says I’m cool…) I found out the two-word version is the more common one, particularly in the UK. Who knew? Not me, clearly.

Buildings in the UK have ‘two storeys’ not ‘two stories’. That was news to me. Some of the dialogue, written in a heavy Scottish accent, was altered, which at first I thought was outrageous but then I could understand why. To an extent. It was mostly a case of out-of-place apostrophes, but I do feel the accent of the character concerned changed in a way that I wouldn’t have wanted it to with certain changes.

There were one or two things that niggled at me slightly at the time of reading, but I didn’t flag them. The experienced proofreader caught them. For instance, the metaphor ‘… the anger coursed through his veins like cancer.’ That just doesn’t make sense. But grammatically – how I was looking at it – it’s fine.

I learned so much from this mystery proofreader, even if I was rather indignant with the changes at first! But internships are a learning curve and this was a fantastic chance for me to realise the sheer level of detail and thought I need to put into a proofreading task. Nothing can be left to chance.

Besides proofreading, this internship has also given me the chance to do picture research, and to use InDesign extensively to create posters and postcards.

This is a fantastic experience and Sara herself has been incredibly patient and supportive throughout. I really couldn’t have asked for a better first internship.

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