The troubles with copyediting have been well documented here at Fernham. And, in spite of them all, I am genuinely delighted with my book. It feels kind of surreal, amazing, and good to truly be that thing that I meant to be: an author, a person who has actually written a book. And there it is, a thing in the world. A book. It’s funny how much these material things matter even to those of us who live the life of the mind. I am a mother: look, two daughters over there. I wrote a book: hold it in your hands.


When I received the proofs the second time, there was a query from the copyeditor next to the word “graft”: “Do you meant grants?” I wrote “No. STET” and then, a bit piqued, I copied out the OED definition of graft in the margin to show the copyeditor that I was, indeed, using the word correctly. This definition now appears in main text! The sentence now reads: “But they do have privileges: they have been away, they have drivers, they are on the receiving end of government graft (OED graft n.5: The obtaining of profit or advantage by dishonest or shady means; the means by which such gains are made, esp. bribery, blackmail, or the abuse of a position of power or influence; the profits so obtained).”

Words fail me.

How could a thinking person imagine that I meant to include this note to the copyeditor in my text? Why is a non-thinking person doing this job? The incompetence is staggering. The mind boggles.