Archive for the ‘Grammar’ Category

Put Down the Phone

07 Apr

I have to do it. I do.

I have a strange new addiction to watching videos in the evenings on my phone. Comics, beauty, organization. It’s like a visual, moving Pintrest of ideas and music and smiley faces. Games. And social media, memes … just flipping, flipping, flipping through … crap on the Internet.

It is quite the opposite of reading books. And I kind of miss those. Books.

I spend my days, quite naturally, reading. E-mails, manuscripts, proofs. Researching and fact checking. Often when I’m actually working on an actual story, I’m not “reading.” I’m editing. Or proofing, or looking something up in a style book …

The truth is, at the end of the day, cracking open a book, which used to feel like freedom, is often the last thing I want to do. Hence, the videos.

But I do miss it. I do like a time when I can read for reading sake, without taking an editorial eye to it. People who are not in the biz always make the assumption that editors will be quick to correct a person’s grammar when they’re speaking. This is simply not true. And not just because correcting someone’s grammar would make said editor seem like a pretentious a-hole. But because people talk how they talk, and verbal communication is very, very different from the written word.

Ergo, it’s so very difficult for me to take off an editorial hat when reading a book. Especially if it ain’t all that great. Know what I’m sayin’?

A great book, however, can totally bring out the writer in me. I find myself thinking and writing in the voices of characters I’m reading. I’m envious and appreciative of the actual writer, because they thought of this genius and I did not. I often find myself inspired and contemplative.

It’s what most often makes me put the phone down.

So it’s my goal, a new goal, to dive into a pretty good stash of books I’ve yet to read, and to start working them back in to my professional life. Another assumption of editors is that we are well read. And we are, up until the point where we start reading for money, and then the only thing we’re reading is our work. See the cycle?

So with this is my own pledge to start reading. And start reporting back. Stay tuned.


Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling

09 Feb

So today, at the Today website, a new article was published about the wacky world of grammar snobs. Entitled, “Fastidious spelling snobs pushed over the edge,” this quirky little story takes a peek into the world of those who love, love, love to correct the grammar.

The argument of the story is that although bad punctuation has plagued city signs and menus around the country for decades, the stress of war and economy have made folks a little snappy with the spelling corrections.

Although a fun read, I’ve got to disagree on the timing here. Grammar snobs, vigilantes, habitual correctors, what have you, have been around for as long as words and sentences have been written.

The idea that stress equals a rise in public tongue lashings on grammar to help the grammarian feel more in control is ridiculous. Why are there not reports about stress leading to cleaner bathrooms throughout America? More spontaneous creative graffiti on building walls? A rise in chocolate sales?

The truth is there are two camps in the grammar world: Those that are literally exposed to it on a regular basis due to career—such teachers, those in publishing, media or public office—and those who are not.

The new specialized unit of grammar police could simply be a case of the non-exposed running into and around with the fully exposed crowd. Aka: the Internet, excessive blogging, etc.

The truth is, those of us in the exposed grammar crowd are much harsher on one another than on the general population. The razor-sharp tongues of those inside publishing houses over a missed grammar correction, well, would make a layman blush. Or just really, really angry.

It’s been a habit of mine to argue on the side of the error-makers. Yes, part of the job is no visible “mistakes,” once that book/magazine/paper has gone to print. But it isn’t rocket science. Nobody died because there was a misplaced modifier in a sentence. Most of the rules are up for debate anyway. Just look at the serial comma.

On the other side of the coin, in the non-exposed grammar world, a little gentle chiding from the grammar elite is to be expected. In the way musicians poke fun at boy bands, or historians critique every epic war movie ever made. Heck, I still cringe when I think about the little Oklahoma establishment of Boswell Animal Kare, an establishment, I am almost certain, was the only vet in Boswell. Good times.

But the Today article sites people who likely would have climbed up that twenty-foot vet sign with a can a spray paint and a stencil for the letter “C.” I mean, cringing at an “overuse” of “quotation marks” for example, is one thing. Defacing public property to correct an error on a storefront sign or on a diner menu, however, is just… bizarre.

My advice, the next time the urge strikes to correct a flyer, or you notice a mistake in a local newsletter, hang back. Instead, pick up the phone and ask the organization if they could use a copyeditor. After all, extra cash in these hard economic times could be a stress reliever.