Proofs as Proof

Novelist John Connolly just got the page proofs for his new book THE UNQUIET:

It’s always interesting to receive the proofs, as it’s the first time
that I get to see the book as it will look to the public, i.e. typeset,
and no longer simply my manuscript. At that point, a transformation
occurs in the way I view it. It is not just something that I rustled up
on my computer. It’s a book, and I judge it in a different way. I
notice elements that perhaps I did not recognise before. I become more
conscious of themes running through it, and I become aware, for want of
a better word, of the ‘feel’ of the book.

I know exactly how he feels. I just finished going through the proofs for DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE LAST WORD and I felt as if I was reading someone else’s book. It didn’t seem to have any connection to the "file" I emailed to my editor months ago. I was reading it fresh and I was surprised by some of obvious themes that ran that ran through the book…themes I wasn’t even consciously aware of as I was writing it. 

When I read the proofs, I find myself seeing the prose, the characters, and the plot differently than I did in the midst of working on the book. But most of all, reading THE LAST WORD, I was aware of a pace and rythmn to the story that I definitely didn’t feel while I was writing it in bits and pieces, at different times and in different places (L.A., Germany, Palm Springs… and at my desk, on airplanes, in hotel rooms, in waiting rooms, in my car, etc.)

The term "proofs" has a double-meaning to me. Holding the proofs, I have evidence to convince myself that what I wrote is actually a book…it’s the first time the story feels like a book to me instead of work.

5 thoughts on “Proofs as Proof”

  1. Yeah, it’s a fairly magical feeling for me, far more magical than writing The End or even seeing the book on a shelf at the bookstore (which is pretty cool until the next time you visit the bookstore and find it’s still there!). The whole thing feels like a fantasy until you’ve got something resembling a book in your hand and reading it as such allows me to feel more like a reader of it than the writer of it.
    Mark Terry

  2. Lee — you wrote: I was surprised by some of obvious themes that ran that ran through the book.
    Quick, call Tod! He is always eager to hear about themes in books, not to mention motifs.
    Uncle Burl

  3. Burl, it’s so cool to see you here. I’m a fan of your books and am dying to ask you some questions. Do you keep in touch with the Newman family? What are they doing these days? I’m particularly interested in how Nancy’s sister and husband are coping after all these years. Also is Kirby in general population, or is he in solitary confinement? Is he still out of control or has he mellowed? Does he still maintain his innocence in the face of overwhelming evidence, or has he finally taken responsibility for his actions? I look forward to your responses. This case really got to me and it still bothers me he was unable to get the death penalty for what he did.

  4. Lee I don’t know how often Burl checks in here but just in case this was a shot-in-the-pan check-in could you pass my questions onto your uncle? thank you.


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