My page proofs came through for my collection of short stories, Balancing on the Edge of the World, and for the first time ever I didn't use the British Standards Institution proof correction marks.
It felt like a kind of loss. I'll never forget the first time I ever used them, on the proofs of an early short story, using the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook: that exciting sense of learning a new code attached to an extra expertise, that of the printer, and of communicating directly with him/her.
Not so long ago, though, a young relative of mine was asked to edit a journal, and I offered to buy him a book containing the BSI marks. He looked at me with pity. He said, 'Oh we don't use those. We mark everything up on Word.'
Well, of course, I knew that the BSI marks had been dropping out of use. When I edited the short-story magazine Metropolitan, by which time the job of typesetting had moved away from the printer to the desktop publisher, very few of the authors used the old marks on their proofs, they simply wrote in their corrections in whatever way they saw fit.
And when my proofs for Balancing came through I thought: well, why don't I use the software markup too? And I did, and was thus able to send them by email, as well. Jen at Salt is happy. It just remains to be seen whether the typesetter is too...