Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The virtual editing session

Virtual meetings are not new to me. In the past, I've blogged about successfully attending a teleconference that was very deaf-friendly, as well as "meeting" online with editors via private chat rooms. As it is, I'll occasionally chat with my editor of Spook City (when she has that time to chat, that is). I'm not as big about chatting online as I used to be, but business is business, and when it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Because of my deafness, it's pretty much the most commonly preferred alternative to a phone conversation.

Yet recently, I was a part of an editing session that everyone, deaf and hearing, participates in for this publisher: Editing via Google Docs. I've never gone through the editing stages of a book this way, or even had the chance to actually "see" what changes are being made. Usually, manuscripts are edited sight unseen, then sent back to me via email to go over. If I have any comments or request any changes, all of that is discussed via email. It's not done as though the two (or three) of us are in one virtual "conference room."

This time, however, I was in that virtual conference room, watching as sentences were being deleted, notes were being made about something that needed to be double-checked, and portions of the manuscript were changed around. It was all right there for the viewing -- as well as for the discussion between myself and the editor. For example, the editor indicated one sentence that was not clear to her, so we had a discussion about that while the page was right in front of both of us.

It was an interesting experience. I can't say I prefer to go through the edits this way, however. True, it's convenient in that we can talk about things an editor would want me to check up on or discuss moving something elsewhere, but I prefer the same old method I've participated in before. The "virtual editing sessions" are nice, but painstakingly slow. The editor has to stop editing to check in with me on things, instead of making notes in that part of the manuscript then proceeding with the edits. Also, it's dependent on how much time I can invest in participating. With two young children, my time to participate in these sessions is scarce. I grab that time when the kids are in school (though, as it is, the youngest only goes for a half-day two times a week), but even then, that's just not enough time to get the whole manuscript edited. The editor has more time than I do, and requiring me to be "present" for the edits of the manuscript just holds things up.

I'm still grateful for this experience, and it has definitely given me a lot to think about. I just prefer the other method of going through the edits of a manuscript because it just gets done faster.

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