Collate: (v) to collect and combine in proper order
I do not judge my life by my successes, but rather, by the ease involved in achieving them.
I had an idea.
I was in my early twenties and had written a book. I was so damned impressed with myself. I struggled to let people know that I had written a book, so they could grant me adequate praise.
I was impatient. I didn’t want to just write a book, I wanted to print a book and put it in people’s hands, observing them gasp with amazement.
This was before desktop publishing was a common practice. At my disposal were printed sheets which had been typed–and a Xerox machine.
This was my first mistake.
This lovely lady was obviously going through some sort of mental disruption, and ended up misspelling hundreds of words, which I did not catch because I decided it would be petty to proofread it.
So not only did I have a faulty original, I used a Xerox printer which probably belonged in a college dorm room, and demanded it do the job of an industrial one.
Not only did it refuse, it was rather snotty about it.
Mistake two: after the first fifty pages, the ink cartridge started to fade.
And finally, making sure that I had three mistakes to “uncharm” me, I collated by myself.
So when it came time to have the book fastened together (with staples) and I handed it off to a friend, within three seconds she was giggling.
On page five alone, the word “the” had been misspelled four times in five different ways. (I don’t know how that’s even possible.)
It was also humorous to her that the pages were so faded that she needed a magnifying glass to read them.
And to add insult to depravity, I collated incorrectly, so page 7 followed 5, then 10, then 17…
So I decided that the only way I would be able to offer this book was to put a disclaimer sheet with each and every sale:
- See how many mistakes you can find!
- Did you need a magnifying glass to read this, or are your eyes really good?
- Even though it was an experiment, did you like jumping all over the book to find out what the next page was going to be?
It was one of the saddest days in my life when I had to take all the project–all the paper–all the effort–and toss it in a trashcan.
There is a reason that we leave it to the experts to collate.
After all, it isn’t just some Random House…