Final (?) Edits


This is what an edited manuscript used to look like. And what a mess it was. Additions scribbled in between the lines, new pages stuck in, paragraphs stapled over old paragraphs. Now my editor and I work back and forth in Track Changes:

Tuesday, May 8th, 1866 HAS TO BE THE 8TH SO THEY CAN LEAVE ON THE WED/9TH AND ARRIVE ON FRIDAY, 11TH. Then the weekend, May 12 and 13, they’re trying to get settled in, so R has time to write of the trip. ((According to Mr. K’s schedule they would arrive on Thurs. 12th, late in the evening))

I said my prayers tonight with dear little Bridget for the last time. We leave tomorrow! Tomorrow. I cannot bear to think about it. ((Do the ! give a sense of excitement vs dismay? I think they possibly do.))

Monday, May 14th, 1866

Ottawa, Province of Canada

We are here. At last I have I have a moment to scribble in this journal, but where to start? I am in a different world. At least I have a corner to myself where I can write in private. It is behind the kitchen and not much bigger than a broom closet but as I am the only maidservant, I have it all to myself. James has his own quarters in the back. I have a straw tick and a pillow, and the quilt that Grandmam made. I am sitting on my bed wrapped up in the quilt while I’m writing now, and sniffing the smells it still holds of Mam and cooking and home! My old doll, Meggy((use the name?))is tucked in beside me. I think I might well die from loneliness. I cannot bring myself to write more now. Perhaps tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 15th, 1866

It is very late. The house is all abed and sleeping. I only have a stub of a candle, but I will try to recount at least a little of our journey here. It was so long! We left last Wednesday evening on the overnight train to Montreal. Of the parting, I can only say that it broke my heart. The little ones clung to me and wept. Da gave me a hug that would crush a bear.

“Sure, I’ve great faith in ye, Rosie me girl,” Mam said, hugging me as well, and she’s not usually much of a one for hugs. “Ye’ll do well, I know it.” She tried to sound positive, but her mouth trembled. I could see it.

Mary Margaret was in as great a flood of tears as the little ones. She hugged me over and over and kept saying “Thank, you, Rosie. Thank you.”

For her sake more than any other, I managed to keep from crying myself. She is happier than I have ever seen her and has already set the date when she and Donny are to be wed. How can I not be glad for her? ((Why is MM weeping? Relief that she’s not having to go?))((Relief and gratitude))

Da helped me carry my bundle to the ferry that would take us across the river to the train station at Pointe Levi. The Bradleys  drove up in a smart pony trap, just as we arrived, with James following in a wagon with a great quantity of luggage, but most of their furniture and possessions had already been sent on ahead.

And the dog. Slobbering as usual and looking ridiculously happy. I don’t think the beast has a brain in its head.  ((This kind of comment gives us her dislike of dogs, or at least of this one.))

I stood at the railing of the ferry all the way across, looking back. Da waved until we were out of sight and I could not hold back the tears any longer. Fortunately, the Bradleys were sitting at the other end of the boat and did not notice.

There wasn’t much time to grieve, though, as when we got off the ferry and reached the train station the  locomotive was already pulling in with a great shrieking of whistles and blowing of steam. All of a sudden everything was noise and confusion. ((Loading all the luggage would take time though, right, and so the passengers could wait till that was nearly done? Or not?))

The Bradleys rode in a sleeper car. I was shown into a coach. James was told to see to the luggage and take the dog to a car at the end of the train, but as he led him away, the fool dog seemed to realize what was going on and of course locked his feet and balked. The last I saw of him, James was dragging him down the length of the platform.I am not certain exactly where they rode, but I could see James was none too pleased about it. James is almost as haughty as that maidservant and has not seen fit to address a word to me yet.

My candle is guttering out. I will write about that horrible journey tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 16th, 1866

I do not think I care much for the cars train as a mode of transportation. It was hot and stuffy in the compartment, but when I opened a window to get a breath of air, the wind blew a gust of soot and cinders back from the smokestack of the locomotive right into my face and I had to shut it again immediately. ((She wouldn’t say “train cars” or “rail cars”? I think the reader is going to misunderstand.))So I just stared out through the dirty glass until the sun set and all I could see was my own reflection. With each passing moment I knew that I was getting farther and farther away from everyone that I loved. What were they all doing now, I wondered. Were their lives going on just as usual, while mine was being wrenched apart so cruelly? Did Mam remember to make certain Bridget had her warm coat on? The weather is chilly for May and Bridget takes cold so easily.

That was a miserable night. I felt so strange and alone in that car. The chattering of all the other people gradually faded away, to be replaced by snores, but I couldn’t sleep. By the time we pulled into Montreal the next morning I was almost faint with exhaustion, but our trip was far from over.

That’s what my manuscript for my new Dear Canada book, A Country of Our Own, the Confederation Diary of Rosie Dunn, looks like now.

It makes life so much easier. My editor’s comments are in red, my revisions in blue. I send my revised manuscript back to her, she checks it over, then with one click removes all the back and forth comments, accepts all the new revisions, and sends back a nice clean copy. For the really final revisions.

And then there’s the copyediting, proofreading…..

It’s never final until it’s in print.

About Karleen Bradford

I am an award-winning author of children's and young adult books.
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