Sometime last year, I was privileged to be roped in by a church friend to copyedit a non-fiction book. Copyediting meant dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s in the manuscript, making sure the grammar worked and most important, that the content was clearly written.
My friend Lim Swee Cheng, who is a marine biologist by day and an amateur photog on the side, has been hailed by the press as Singapore’s expert on sea sponges. Writing a book about his favourite sea animal was a natural outcome of his love for flora and fauna, especially the kind of marine life whose genus can be found at the lowest rung of the animal kingdom.
The best part of editing a piece of specialized content like this was that I became, for a week or so, fairly well-versed in sea sponges, particularly those found in tropical waters. It was a bit like practising a piece of music until it got into your head and the tune kept spiralling in and out of your consciousness.
On Tuesday this week, I was invited to the launch of Swee Cheng’s guidebook on Singapore sea sponges, published by the Singapore Science Centre.
Some highlights: The Science Centre never looked so good. I last stepped foot here some 10 years ago, at a time of day when students on field trips filled its cavernous halls. Now, it was after office hours, the crowds had gone, and the place with its festive-looking interactive exhibits actually looked lonely. Also, I noticed how the officious opening speech by the government official contrasted greatly with the down-to-earth and visually pleasing presentations by the authors of the two guidebooks (the other featured mosses.)
The greatest thrill must have been seeing another side of my church friend emerge: The well-travelled marine biologist who knows and loves his field, the world of beautiful and mysterious sea sponges.