One Thing or the Other

I am a writer and I am an editor. I am rarely both at the same time.

I used to be a grammar nazi, but I’m not much of one anymore. Stephen Fry did a very interesting talk (which you should all check out) about how grammar nazis seem to suck all the joy out of language. I can understand getting snarky, which can be both fun and funny (as often shown at Failbook, go figure), but if you genuinely get frustrated or even angry? The only person hurt by that is you, and it certainly isn’t fun. It just ends up taking too much time and energy, and I would rather devote that to editing for people who care to improve and who will not take it personally. Just use the red pen and move on; don’t linger too long on things that shouldn’t take more than one second of your energy.

The thing is, I make typos that I don’t notice. I have weird syntax. My brain creates convoluted sentences that make sense to me and are technically correct but end up all twisty-turny when I get them down. And I just can’t see it. When I’m the one writing it, I just can’t see it. That’s part of the reason why, after I finish a manuscript, I set it aside. I don’t touch it for months. That way, when I return to it, I can approach it with an editor’s eye instead of a writer’s. But even then, I’m still too close to it to be as thorough as I am with something I didn’t write myself.

So, yeah, I’m a writer and a pretty good copyeditor, but that doesn’t mean my blog posts are going to be perfect. And I’ve slowly learned to let that go, to realize that they don’t have to be, to stop agonizing over typos … in blog posts and things like that. I still agonize over things like query letters. And when I finish school, I’ll have to agonize over transcripts (unless I hire a proofreader, which a lot of court reporters do). But I’m much more relaxed here in this casual setting. And I won’t yell at you if you write “a lot” as one word (although I will link you to this alot) or if you mix up “your” and “you’re.” English is a crazy language with counter-intuitive spelling and ridiculous grammar rules. I get it. I love it, but I get it. (Nothing shows you how silly English spellings are better than learning phonetic stenography.)

When I start typing, sometimes my fingers get in a groove. Even though I know the difference, my muscle memory will get confused and I’ll write the wrong homophone. As long as it’s not a pattern, shrug, whatever. It’s really not the end of the world.

I can do one or the other, but I can’t always do both. And I promise I won’t bite when I see you’re making the occasional typo. “You’re.” A contraction of “you are.” “Your” is possessive.

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