In a remote monastery, a new monk arrives to devote his life to contemplation, seclusion and thankless labour. He is soon assigned the task of copying antique texts. After a couple of weeks of this, it occurs to him that he and the other scribing monks are copying, by hand, books that have themselves already been copied by hand.
“Forgive my impertinence, Brother Matthew,” he says one day. “But isn’t there a considerable risk that by copying from copies we might perpetuate earlier errors? Has anyone ever proofread their work against the original texts?”
Brother Matthew admits it has never crossed his mind. He immediately takes himself off to the vaults and begins to scrutinise the original texts.
In the small hours of the following morning, Brother Matthew emerges, tears glistening in his weary eyes. In his hands is gripped a particularly ancient-looking volume.
“What’s wrong, Brother Matthew?” his brethren ask. “Please, tell us. There must be something we can do to alleviate your suffering.”
It is some minutes before Brother Matthew is able to speak.
He holds the dusty manuscript aloft. “The word is ‘celebrate’,” he says.
“I am one of those many fools who paid a huge amount of money for a useless course. This book... has opened so many doors for me. I now look on Mike as my mentor as I embark on a career. Thank you Mike.”
Emma Steel, Proofreader and International Structural Editor.
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Jeremy Meehan, Proofreader.
My name's Mike Sellars and I'm an experienced proofreader and the author of The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course. Click here to find out more about me.
The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course
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“As someone who has been proofreading for 30 years, I found Mike’s course an invaluable introduction and a very useful practical guide to many aspects of the discipline. I can wholeheartedly recommend it.” Jeremy Meehan, Proofreader.
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