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  • Jim Edwards

The Hard graft

March 31st 2018

Pulling a book through the process is hard graft! Checking and re-checking is not my strong point! Praise the Lord for Editors who spot all of those errors, and raw wrinkles that our automated tools are too dumb to see, helpful though these are.

I’m so grateful to Lisa Lickel – her comments this time around working through Hebrews to Jude, have as usual, been just so helpful.

And many thanks too, to Fran Jones, who also spotted another good collection of points needing addressing.

So having sent out many copies, I am still finding raw errors which fortunately are easy to correct.

Perhaps the hardest graft for me is the formatting. There are some people – and I take my hat off to you – who spot the tiniest formatting error from a mile away. Well I do hope you are not too put off by my books – at least not so put off that these errors interject into your reading. Fortunately it is usually pretty easy to correct those errors still left, so any that do grate with you, please come back and tell me, and I can make the necessary corrections and upload a revised version. I would be delighted to send you a corrected copy, by way of thank you.

Each new book seems to come bringing with it a new collection of formatting issues. Living and Breathing Hebrews to Jude has been something of a nightmare in this regard. That was pretty evident at the outset if I was going to stick with a program such as Word for all of the writing. I very quickly concluded that I wanted to put comments and references directly alongside the text. I thought that perhaps I could write in two columns, just keeping the two aligned, but Word wont let you have one column on one page and the second column on another page. So each page is defined by page breaks with my screen usually configured to show two pages side-by-side. That’s fine for normal writing. The problem comes with going back and revising or editing.

Any change in page length requires moving those page breaks. Fortunately the longest chapter is not too many pages, so doesn’t require too much pushing and shoving to re-organise, The biggest problem is the confusion when a new page suddenly appears and subsequent pages have swapped sides. But now, after some 16 months, I have now grown quite familiar with these issues and just plow my way through them when necessary.

Aligning the notes to the main text can also be something of an issue, as the line spacing on each page readily gets out of sync. And then there’s references to verses not uniquely identified in the main text. Now that is a gnarly one! I do hope that the references are clear enough as to where they relate. Again – if you struggle with any, or feel any could easily be improved, then do please come back and tell me. Separating the main text into paragraphs has certainly been a tough one. In many places 2 or 3 verses naturally flow together into a single paragraph that really do need to be kept together for it to flow easily. And in many places each verse is a separate thought that readily stands on its own – I find as I go into Paul’s letters this particularly applies, but there are many places in Hebrews to Jude where this applies also. But the real problem are all of those grey areas in between, where it is pretty arbitrary as to whether to separate them out or lump some together. Separating them out certainly makes for easier cross-referencing, both to the accompanying notes and also to other bibles, so I have hopefully erred on the side of separating verses which may have been better kept together, rather than the other way around.

And then there are the issues of whether to justify the text or leave ragged. I think having the main text justified and the notes ragged does help. [Many thanks Lisa for this suggestion.] The notes are not intended to be read en bloc. You may notice that I have kept my quotes from Living and Breathing the Psalms as justified text in the notes, as these are intended to be read through. But clearly it is very easy for errors to creep into either page with this accumulation of variances.

Three iterations of paper copies, and repeated iterations of the text document for each one, has, I hope, aligned the section breaks and the chapter headings with the text beneath, all appropriately formatted and clear. But line spacing especially - to keep consistent, but clear, and to keep reasonable alignment between the Notes and the Text - Ouch! 

I have been surprised at how slow Amazon have been to set up the ‘Look Inside’ feature. I haven’t yet found out just how you can taylor this feature to show those bits you want to show. So I have been intrigued as to how much of the main text will actually make it, for people wishing to see what the resulting text actually looks, and reads like. Now this is finally up, Amazon have included sample pages from each of the letters, so all of 2 John and 3 John are there but only the second half of Jude. And of course the notes make little sense when shown in isolation, rather than alongside the text they relate to. So the result is rather jumbled, but will give readers a flavor of what's inside.

But then comes the re-formatting for Kindle. For this version I have to strip out the notes and add them in as endnotes, inserting the endnotes into the text with the appropriate links. I hope that most people wishing to use the e-book version for study purposes will have access to two e-book readers, such as a Kindle and a mobile phone with the Kindle app loaded to it. But the main text should be a delight to read straight through in this format – though I may find I want to go through more carefully looking at the paragraphing. But I have delayed wading into this until the paper version is genuinely complete – or the two versions will all too rapidly diverge.

This is a very personal version. I hope that many will find it helpful, and that it doesn’t create too much division and criticism! Our Father God so longs to be intimately known, intimately loved and intimately understood. It is my hope and prayer that this helps you to draw near and snuggle up to Father God [James 4:8] and come to know Him, and know His Love more intimately.

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