I was a consultant physician and needed to feel that I could still use my brain after retirement. Although I had always loved art as a hobby I knew I wasn’t good enough to make a decent living out of it. Reading bedtime stories to granddaughters (Jessica and Emily) sparked the idea of trying to produce my own. Paper, pencil and a granddaughter sidekick resulted in what we called ‘Drawry Stories’. We would let the story evolve and draw pictures without knowing how it would finish.
My wife heard a radio interview with Brian Morris which considered self-publishing and use of CreateSpace as a tool provided by Amazon. Ten books later and I am now proficient at using this website and have produced six short stories in verse for children, three books on medical topics and one on pen and wash sketching.
I was reading one of my earlier stories and, to my horror, found a spelling mistake! Although, as per CreateSpace advice, I always proofread my books more than once before publishing, it was a humbling lesson. I needed to sharpen my proofreading skills and came across NZIBS diploma.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my year of learning with excellent guidance from my tutor Dick Ward. Each assignment provided greater insight into the art of the written word. How the English language has evolved from century to century and continent to continent. The need to allow for different styles and genre of writing and, most important of all, the need for strict attention to detail.
Each assignment presented challenges to find all the errors and the first time I missed a quotation mark in a different font I realised that I was on a hiding to nothing! The extensive literature provided with the diploma and each assignment has been very useful. The very practical advice on how to market oneself is also very important for those who wish to progress to a fully fledged professional proofreader.
When I think back on 35 years of medical practice it is sobering to consider the volume of the written word that I must have produced in the form of patients’ histories, meeting minutes, training manuals, research literature, PowerPoint presentations, book chapters, etc. I wonder how many significant errors cropped up in that lot. Hopefully, none that had any significant consequence.
I became aware of some amusing errors that did significantly alter the intended message. One was on a large advert for a famous eatery which proudly proclaimed, “Over 10 billion severed”.
I am now on my seventh children’s story and have found that it stimulates a childlike imagination in me; something that I have learnt from my grandchildren. I was also delighted to get a review article published in Respiratory Medicine magazine without any proofreading criticism from the reviewers!
Dr Stephen Connellan
Author, Proofreader & EditorDr Stephen Connellan has published several books:
The book on pen and wash sketching is entitled A Sketchy Past.