Some people can comfortably read for hours on end from a computer screen. Unfortunately, in an era when that is most convenient, I am not one of them. I have weird eyes that need narrow screens, or ideally paperback book size pages. If conditions aren’t just right I get eyestrain headaches that feel like a thrown out back on my head. So I’ve been in search of a perfect way to proofread for years.

Reading off printed out manuscript pages is really the most comfortable way for me still, but as time passes I move more and more toward being a totally digital writer. Beyond that my Glitcherella proofreading skills leave me feeling guilty when I read from paper, because of how much of said paper I go through. Even printing out new copies on the backs of old ones helps only so much.

I have a Kindle 3rd Gen that went a long way toward giving me a comfortable proofreading program. My old Word Pro files have to go through circusworthy contortions of the formatting kind, but .txt documents are readable. They won’t indent, which leads to some confusion, but nobody, (including formats) is perfect.

I eventually discovered MobiPocket Creator, and actually had the nerve to think I could easily make eBooks both to proofread from and perhaps sell on Amazon. Did I ever underestimate the complexities of eBook formatting! Especially when starting out with documents created with a positively arcane word processor. I’m still working on perfecting potential Kindleable ebooks, but I did eventually learn to make rudimentary ebooks that are great for proofreading on my narrow Kindle screen.

Problem solved.

Not quite.

While the reading was easier, I was writing corrections down on paper. That involved learning not only to think in percentages instead of page numbers, but also keep track of scraps of paper and go from that to computer screen and back endlessly during the correction stage.

Half solved.

Recently I came across an ad on Amazon for the Kindle Fire HD 6″. Oooh. Not too expensive, small screen (which has not been easy to find in any device in the world of ever expanding screen size), and the cool factor of HD video and games in the palm of my hand. So I got one and fell in love (for the most part, but that’s a topic for another post).

It took me just over one frustrating week to figure out how to get my proofreading eBooks to show up as a Kindle document. I eventually found I could transfer just the Kindle Content file, from the MobiPocket folder on my laptop, into Docs on my Fire, and it showed up as if a tiny magician had yelled abracadabra at the top of his lungs in the cyber alley spanning devices.

Hey, presto! Problem two thirds solved.

I loved proofreading on my 6″ Fire screen. Even my formatting glitches looked better that way. Or maybe it was just that I was used to that from the old Kindle. Regardless, I was in proofreading almost heaven. The remaining problem was that I was still using pen and paper to write down corrections. After trying several notepad and word processor apps, I discovered that there’s a great word processor lurking somewhere in the sometimes mysterious bowels of the Fire. I still can’t figure out where the button to open it is, but after stumbling across it I can now at least access it in a round about way.

So now thanks to a powerful built in word processor, I can handle my proofreading process without ever touching pen or paper. Granted, it’s a bit of a pain to flip in and out, back and forth, Kindle mode to word processor constantly. But it’s also nice not to mentally hear the silent green cries of all the trees that fell victim to my unintentional massacres by way of crumpled paper destined for a landfill. It’s also much easier to make computer corrections from a lit screen, minus the odd dropped pen or torn paper scrap.

It only took me approximately four word processors, two Kindles, and countless scraps of paper with their accompanying pens just waiting to run out of ink when I needed it most to finally get to this point. I shudder to think what it’s going to take to eventually figure out perfect eBook formatting. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be lucky if the entire publishing industry hasn’t changed completely yet again. Maybe by then at least the unbelievable convolutions embedded into the entire system will have been streamlined and simplified and…never mind.