The page proofs for Love, Lucy turned up in yesterday's mail, giving me an excuse to commandeer the dining room table and brandish my favorite blue Flair pen.
This stage of the making-of-the-book process is both thrilling and frightening. I know this will be my last chance to get the text exactly where I want it to be--to catch typos and clumsy wordings and even logistical errors. I pull up a map of Florence to once more trace Lucy's walk from Piazza Santa Maria Novella to the Arno, making sure I haven't flubbed the streets she'll be following along the way. I see I've used the word "side" three times in two sentences and I agonize over which one to strike.
But I can't make too many changes at this point--only a word here, a phrase there. So I keep the blue Flair pen a little out of reach, where I won't be tempted to use it frivolously. I try to pacify myself with Radio Mozart, coffee, and frequent soothing visits to Facebook.
And I take pleasure in having actual pages in my hand for the first time. What began as daydreams and scribbles and grew into pixels on a screen now has a crisp new life as ink on paper, and the satisfying heft of an almost-book.