Being a self-published author isn’t about doing everything yourself; it’s about taking responsibility for everything yourself—making sure you have the right team members in place to cover the parts you can’t do yourself. This month I’m chatting to someone who plays an important role, not only in my team, but in that of lots of other authors (and I’m going to check this posting very carefully for typos before I hit ‘publish’). This month, I’m chatting to Julia Gibbs aka Proofreader Julia.
Hello, Julia; thanks for dropping by. Let’s start at the beginning: what is your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?
My sister (@TerryTyler4) was in her pram and I was running up to the handle of it and jumping up to make her laugh. (You understand, I was under 3 years old at the time!) Anyway, you know how babies are, she kept laughing and wanting me to do it again, and eventually I jumped too hard and cut open my top lip. I have the scar to this day. So it’s her fault that I’m hideously deformed—joke, joke!! Also, what makes us laugh has become (just slightly) more sophisticated since then (but not much!)
If you could take part in one television programme, which one would it be?
Well, I really want to appear on the general knowledge quiz show Pointless with my best friend Christine, because I love it and I reckon with a bit of luck we could get pretty far and maybe win the jackpot. Also, I would love to meet Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman, because they’re intellectual crushes of mine and I rather fancy Alexander.
[And I happen to know that Julia managed to fulfill that ambition recently; I’m dying to find out how she got on, but have to wait until the show is broadcast some time next year.]
What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?
It’s not a case of what would I have printed on the front of my T-shirt, but what DO I have printed on my only T-shirt with words/logo—and it’s Aerosmith, who are the greatest living rock band and who have brought me more happy times and more good friends than I care to count.
What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
I absolutely loved English. I was introduced to Shakespeare when we read Macbeth in my class of 12-year-olds, and I couldn’t believe that such genius existed without me knowing about it before. Why didn’t anyone tell me that someone could work such magic with the English language?! Ah, the joy! I loathed and detested maths, which was a compulsory O-level in my school; so I worked really hard, and still only got a mediocre grade, but I was really pleased to have passed it and never thought about it again. It was completely incomprehensible to me that anyone could like that subject!
If you could change one law, what would it be?
Not a particular law, but I’d like to see changes to the benefits system, made by an intelligent and responsible government. I’m not claiming any benefits myself, and never have done, but I think there is great unfairness in the way it’s administered. Some people literally have nowhere to live and nothing to eat, and the system as it is does not sufficiently help the truly deserving, whilst others are able to exploit loopholes and claim money which they should not have. It is the duty of a civilised society to take care of its less fortunate members (the elderly, the genuinely disabled, those who have lost their jobs with no hope of further employment, destitute mothers, ex-servicemen, etc) and I believe that the system in this country does not work in a fair and efficient way. This was particularly brought home to me in the last few months when I read about the diabetic ex-soldier who was found dead in his flat, because he couldn’t afford the electricity to refrigerate his insulin – absolutely tragic.
How do you relax?
And on a lighter note – I go to dance classes! You can’t proofread books for hours at a time, otherwise you lose your concentration, not to mention probably seize up from sitting down all day. So I attend Latin, tap, ballroom and beginners’ ballet classes, and it’s great fun. I recommend it to anyone, no matter your age or experience. I’m 58 and I’d never done such classes before I started 18 months ago, and it’s much more fun than going to the gym. Find a class where you don’t need a partner, there are plenty of them.
Where is your favourite place on earth — and why?
There are a few places around the world that I really love; however, experience has taught me that they are so much better if you’re in the right company. I’ve always felt that if we are in the right place, with the right people, we are very near to the angels! So I’d like to be in Barcelona, or Manhattan, having dinner with my best friends. Or I’d like all my friends and family to live on the same street as me.
If you knew you only had 24 hours left, how would you spend them?
Well, once I’d instructed my lawyer to liquidate my assets and give the money to a homeless charity, (sparkling halo, you see!) I would get a very good private investigator to ascertain the whereabouts of Tom Hiddleston, then I would leap into a high-powered rental car and rush to that location. Once there, I would explain my situation, and invite him to accompany me to my hotel suite. Tom Hiddleston is to me the equivalent of salted caramel ice cream – i.e., if he was in front of me I’d lose all power of self-control and rational thought!
Why do you like proofreading so much, and why is it essential for every writer, no matter how educated or assiduous they might be?
I love proofreading because I’m eternally fascinated by the English language (and other languages, but that’s a whole other story!) I have always been an absolute nitpicker about grammar, much to the annoyance sometimes of my colleagues when I used to work in offices, and love hunting out and correcting those pesky typos that every, (yes, EVERY) author makes.
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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