Shire Proofreading

Putting proofs through their paces

Shire Proofreading Update – March 2024

March is finally here and the advent of spring is most welcome. My mother’s birthday was 21 March and she insisted she was born on the first day of spring. Her birth fell on the day of the 83rd Oxford–Cambridge Boat Race. As was the norm, she was born at home and fathers were excluded from proceedings; my grandfather was listening intently to the progress of the race on the radio, having coxed for Exeter College during his time at Oxford. Therefore, spring begins on 21 March in this household. The signs of spring are in evidence all around me and they uplift the spirit. Cycling can recommence, the birds are busy building their first nests, and the garden plants are showing promise.


What I’m working on

I am concentrating on professional development this month. Although I have passed the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading’s suite of proofreading courses with merit, I want to make sure there are no gaps in my knowledge. The Publishing Training Centre’s Essential Proofreading course is every bit as rigorous but it offers different approaches and perspectives. I was delighted to receive a distinction for my latest assignment – three more to go.

What I’m reading

Becoming by Michelle Obama has been on my reading list for too long. Although written by a ghostwriter, you can hear Michelle clearly in the words. It is a riveting memoir and guides us through her life from humble beginnings in Chicago through the front door of the White House. What strikes me is the enormous sacrifices she had to make to support her husband’s bid for the presidency.

What I’m doing

I attended my first group meeting of York Editors (link). We met in a lovely hotel in York and it took me back to the fifteen years I spent driving along that road to take my son to school. I met a wonderful, accomplished, friendly, knowledgeable and experienced group of editors and proofreaders. Everyone had something to contribute and I gleaned so many tips and so much advice – I must take a notebook next time. It was encouraging to hear other members’ stories and discover their routes into the profession. Above all it was wonderful to meet like-minded folk who I no longer consider strangers.

What I’ve learned

It’s often tricky to remember the order in which adjectives should be placed before a noun they all modify. Thomas Claire has produced this simple mnemonic, which I am finding extremely useful.

Need a simple mnemonic to remember the order in which to place adjectives in front of the noun all of them modify? Try SAC: Size, Age, Color . . . and material and condition if they apply. A big old red stone and wood dilapidated bank barn. A large brand-new brown cardboard box. Missing an adjective? Leave it out but keep the order for the remaining adjectives. Have an opinion? Put it in front of the others: A nifty little well-used brass belt buckle. An ugly towering century-old red brick eyesore. In case anyone asks, these are called—grammatically—prepositive noncoordinate adjectives. They need no commas separating them.

Many thanks to Thomas for this insight –

What I’m listening to

I am so happy to have discovered BorrowBox. As a member of my local library, I have access to eBooks and audiobooks that are available on BorrowBox. The service has become so popular that many titles are out on loan but reserving them is possible. My favourite this month has been The Vanishing of Margaret Small by Neil Alexander. This is a bittersweet story with a dual timeline and focuses on the treatment of people with learning difficulties in the post-war period. The recent timeline is set in Whitstable, Kent – a beautiful coastal town I was lucky enough to visit a few years ago to attend the launch of a book I edited for the local library group.

What I’m stitching

No matter how hard I try, it is inevitable that I lose at least one of my gold-plated needles during a stitching project. I am determined not to do that again because my stock of needles is dwindling. When I spotted this practical and pretty stitcher’s etui by Sue Hawkins, I knew I had to make one for myself. There will be no more vanishing needles when I have this etui by my side.

Benjamin Franklin will be my guide:

a place for everything, everything in its place.

Let the stitching begin and the needles behave.

What I’m looking forward to

Warmer days – that goes without saying.

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