Physical work as distraction therapy

So, that’s it.  The Angel Bug has been sent out to a number of readers for a read-through by fresh eyes, as both my proofreader and I have read it so often we can’t see what is there, what was there and what isn’t there anymore – editing can throw up errors you, yourself, just can’t see.

Now, some of these readers know my style of writing and like it, and some have not read any of my novels before, but are avid readers, and then there’s one in the USA.

The latter because in The Angel Bug one half of the story is told from the view point of an American, and at times he also interacts with other Americans in the USA. Now, I have tried to make sure that he thinks and talks in the right slang and idiom for an American, but what do I know? I’m UK born and bred! Anything ‘off-note’ however, should jump out at a bona fide American and then I should be able to remedy the problem before The Angel Bug is published.

Here’s a conundrum for you …

UK = ‘This is a herbal mixture’  USA = ‘This is an herbal mixture’ (said ‘This is an ‘erbal mixture’  the American using the original pronunciation of herbal – hence the required ‘an’ as indefinite article.)

So, how would you render this in a book that, hopefully, will be read both sides of the Atlantic? 

My solution – ‘an herbal’ when the words are in the mouth of an American, ‘a herbal’ when in the mouth of a Brit.  I’m hoping that this will make ultimate sense as it is read.

Now, I am sure you are thinking that you have read traditionally published books written by either Americans putting words into the mouths of Brits ( or visa versa), and they have been wrong, wrong, WRONG!  Or situations – like the ‘muffin shop’ in a Dartmoor village selling blueberry muffins, ( back at a time before the UK had heard of muffins that were made of cake  –  and not the traditional English Muffin – bread,  let alone had whole shops for them) – which particularly sticks in my mind along with the ‘Chalk pits on Dartmoor’ that the  American author also had. (They are  actually China clay)

However, any serious indie published novelist will have realised from reading the blogs on writing, publishing and reviews, readers are frequently far more critical of indie published works than they are of traditionally published works, and as a book can be bought via the internet anywhere in the world …  you ‘d better get that world and its use of language right.

Unfortunately, it is the self-publishing writers who slap their books up without even proofreading them that has brought this hyper-critical gaze to indie published works. Simple fact – no matter how good you are at spelling, grammar and use of the English language – you cannot proofread your own work. Your mind will always read what it expects to read. Hence those great but tricksy ‘can you read this’ lines that get sent around the internet with letters missed or replaced by numbers looking a bit like the letters .. and yes! You can still read it!   S1M1L4RLY,   Y0UR M1ND   15   R34D1NG   7H15   4U70M471C4LLY   W17H0U7   3V3N   7H1NK1NG   4B0U7   17.

So, why the title of today’s blog?  Physical work as distraction therapy.

Well, sending out your novel to new readers is a bit like sending your first child off to school for the first time…. a bit nerve wracking. So I find distraction and pleasure in physical work instead. (Strangely, housework is no good for this therapy – well, that’s my excuse!)

In this case making some beautiful reclaimed slate coasters, out of Delabole roofing slates that may have been on a roof for two hundred years or so … and now are transformed by cutting, filing and, the amazingly revelatory, rubbing down with wet and dry paper – that shows what time and the mineral content of the slate have made of it. Each one different. Each one attractive in its own way. Love them 🙂 Do click on the picture to see them better!

These are going to the St Dominick Craft Fair – I can’t sell them from my slate-ware website as they vary so much I’d have to photograph and put up a special box for each one!

And while I worked I did not think of  The Angel Bug, all alone, out there … but I did allow my mind to wander and to wonder, what next? To listen for the voice of my next narrator ….


Have you any favourite howlers from traditionally published novels?

How do you take your mind off things?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you … it takes my mind of things 🙂


7 thoughts on “Physical work as distraction therapy

  1. What you said about proof reading struck such a cord! My family have always worked in print, going back to the days of hot metal, and I now copy edit part time. I love it, but it is so easy to miss errors, even as a proof reader. And I can’t proof read my own work – I have to get someone else to do it for me, because I can’t see the flaws in what I’ve written.

    • HI Cheryl
      Welcome to the comments and thank you for your endorsement of this view! My proofreader agrees with you — says she can’t proof her own work either.

  2. I’m thinking hard about your entry–it is really fascinating, but meanwhile I’ll share my favorite howler. I don’t remember the book–just as well. It was a novel about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. He is courting her in Summer time and raises his arm to pick and bite into a juicy medlar! Oh dear, oh dear; for those who don’t know medlars, they are as hard as rocks until Winter frosts have softened them. Juicy they are not!

    • Hi Erika,
      Ah! Medlars – that golden fruit! Haha! – which can only be eaten when it is black and looking and feeling rotten!! Wonderful example!
      Thank you 🙂

  3. I gave up reading the mystery writer Martha Grimes years ago. Her errors when setting her books in England set my teeth on edge.

    I am still laughing (sorry) over “a herbal” and “an ‘erbal”. But Americans too have problems over this. I don’t think there is a solution. Then you could move on to “an ‘otel” and “a hotel”; my mother-in-law, a staunch Texas who has never been out of the US, says “An Hotel”…which is obviously in transit between the two pronunciations. (Interestingly enough I caught this when we talked on the telephone only last week)

    A very hoity-toity Bostonian I know says “Herbalist” but “erbal tea”

    As you can see, I am having trouble demonstrating in writing how I mean the words to be pronounced on this topic. Incidentally, as I have a European accent I always say “Herb, Herbal, etc”. God forbid that anyone thinks I drop my Hs–oh the snob that lives in me. I am reminded of an old South Carolina family who are proud of their unusual name Arrington. My unspoken reaction is “Well, someone fresh of the boat in the early 1800s had a paucity of Hs.

  4. Keep forgetting to tell you how beautiful your slate work is. My mother had a love-hate relationship with slate. Her British house, built in 1753, had a slate roof. Some had to be replaced–broken and causing leaks. She had to order specially sized slates from a mine in Wales and did they cost!

    • Hi Erika,
      I hope you think my compromise over the ‘H’erbal conundrum is suitable… in fact I’ve put a note at the end of the novel about it lest someone (either side of the Atlantic) think that I do not know how to apply my indefinite articles (and that’s probably the snob in me! hehe)
      Thank you for your kind words about my slate products. And, yes, Welsh slate is pricey – especially if it is a special size! I sympathise.

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