This year, I feel comfortable enough with the process of printing books through Createspace, to take a risk. I will not be ordering a paper copy for proofing this year.

Usually, the first thing I do with the paper proof is admire it. The books look good, to my biased eyes, and smell like books. Then, I brace myself for the editing pass. My first reader goes first, but I have to do my turn, trying to find every possible typo, awkward wording and extraneous word. It’s helpful, in that task, to have the paper copy to mark up.

Without the paper copy to rely on, I made notes on paper regarding the digital proof I reviewed this year. (I also got my husband to write notes.) Thanks to my last class on writing creative nonfiction, I was more conscious of phrasing than I have been in the past. I noticed a particular word kept reappearing in the text, whether it was needed or not. Again and again, I wrote “that” when writing nothing would do. I almost did it just now (“I noticed that a particular word”).

I know in my initial pass, I caught some of the instances of “that,” and marked them for change. But I knew there might be more. And so, after Ambrose and I had both done our read-throughs, and I had made my corrections, I used a writer’s most awesome tool: Ctrl+F.

Some of my “that” uses were legitimate. Used as a pronoun? Keep it. That’s fine. “At that time” – delete them all! And my uses were, while not ungrammatical, excessive and unnecessary to the flow of the sentences. I left quite a few in the text, but I also deleted over 200 of them. Maybe 300. The version of Word I’m using doesn’t count them. I also went after “actually” and “really” with the word hatchet.

And I think that the text is improved for the cuts. It has enough “that,” but no more.

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