I think I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Unfortunately, I’ve been “grown up” (or at least as grown up as I intend to be) for a considerable period of time, as we humans measure time.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on grammar that was as well-received as anything I’ve written in over two years of blogging. Last week, TJ wrote a post in similar vein, and to date has over 200 comments on that column. Clearly, there is an interest in the topic. I suspect much of that interest is because many blog readers are also blog authors, and most of us (I hope all of us, actually) want to present our material in a readable, grammatically correct manner.
I love words: I love what they do, to present all kinds of information, to convey emotions, to make us laugh or cry, to inform or influence us. The history and etymology of words fascinates me, as does the way language is used today, and how it evolves.1
A few months ago, I discovered (and I still don’t remember how) Deanna Hoak’s blog. Deanna is a professional freelance copyeditor. Most, if not all, of what she works on are fantasy or science fiction books. She wrote some fascinating (to me, at least) articles on copyediting and grammar on her original Live Journal blog, then ported them to WordPress some time later. If you are curious about the art of copyediting, I strongly recommend her writings to you.
Yesterday, either from a link in Twitter or in another blog, I found the blog of a former copy editor2 for The Baltimore Sun, John McIntyre. The name of his blog is “You Don’t Say,” wherein he “comments on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty.” I spent a good couple hours there, reveling in his take on words, language, and railing against the AP Stylebook. And from the looks of it, Mr. McIntyre’s blogroll is a gold mine of resources. I need to find the time to explore further!
As I was reading Mr. McIntyre’s prose, I had an epiphany: I enjoy editing. I want to do more. In fact, I added Merriam-Webster’s Concise Dictionary of English Usage to my Amazon wishlist, to help me “get it right.”
I had an epiphany: I enjoy editing, and I want to do more!
Throughout my working career, I was always recognized by peers and superiors as a very good writer. I was always being asked to either ghost-write documents for others or to edit the work of others. Although I only got a “C” in freshman English Comp, I learned a lot more than that grade reflected. I was also in Air Force ROTC, and a lot of that curriculum had to do with writing clearly and concisely, a habit that has been ingrained in me.3
As many of you are aware, I’ve been asked to be a guest on the Saucy Wenches Podcast early next month, by my two very good friends Tami and Bre. I’ll talk about how to prepare your NaNoWriMo novel for initial editing, and some preliminary steps you can take in the review process.
I’ve also been asked to copyedit two novels from NaNo; I only hope I can manage the time! But if this is truly becoming a passion for me, I think I won’t have any difficulty in that regard. I suspect I’ll spend a lot less time reading blogs just to pass the time.
And yes, you can certainly find the things I’ll be writing about elsewhere on the Web, but most of you don’t read those other sources. And for those of you not so caught up in writing and words, I’ll still be writing other articles on many other
Over the next few weeks, I’ll also be posting several shorter articles on particular “grammar gotchas,” and I invite your suggestions for even more topics. Some of these will have been covered earlier, perhaps in my initial article, or in TJ’s. But they will all be in the umbrella category of “Writing,” and will share either a “copyediting” or “grammar” tag, or both. To help us all keep track, there’ll be a new page here to list what’s planned, and what’s already been covered.
Finally, several of us are taking part in a grammar wave. If you’re on Google Wave and would like to take part, let me know.
I certainly have enough material to keep me busy for awhile, but I’d love to keep this as interactive as possible, so if there’s a particular bugaboo of yours you’d like me to discuss, just let me know.
- That said, I am not a fan of Oxford University Press’s Word of the Year, “unfriend,” as I object mightily to “friend” used as a verb. ↩
- Ms Hoak makes a convincing (to me, at least) argument for the distinction between “copyeditor” and “copy editor” on her blog. Essentially, a copyeditor edits manuscripts; a copy editor edits copy (i.e., articles) for a newspaper or magazine. ↩
- Yes, I know all the jokes about “bureaucratese,” but there wasn’t a lot of it in official Air Force correspondence. And when there was, I did my best to crush it, and change it into “English that’s alive!” ↩