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Discovery, or My “Eureka!” Moment | Kestrel's Aerie

Discovery, or My “Eureka!” Moment | Kestrel's Aerie

Discovery, or My “Eureka!” Moment

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!”


13 Responses to Discovery, or My “Eureka!” Moment
  1. Tami
    November 19, 2009 | 14:41

    Woot! <3

    I'm very glad that you've found a passion and a niche for yourself!
    Tami´s latest blog post is [Nouns] [Verb]! My ComLuv Profile

    • Kestrel
      November 19, 2009 | 14:51

      We shall see…we shall see… I’ve had these sudden bursts of excitement about something before (ham radio comes to mind, although that lasted several years). But since I can combine this with my passion for using the computer, perhaps I can truly be productive this time ’round. :)

  2. Tami
    November 19, 2009 | 14:42

    *SIGH* My comment got eaten again, I must’ve started it with a <3
    Tami´s latest blog post is [Nouns] [Verb]! My ComLuv Profile

    • Kestrel
      November 19, 2009 | 14:47

      I don’t know why Akismet suddenly doesn’t like you. :(

  3. Iris
    November 19, 2009 | 18:50

    I am a person who tries to comment!

    I am very glad you found what your calling is, Kestrel. On an egoistic note, of course, that is because I am one of those people whose novel will benefit from your expertise. But, by and large, I think the moral of your “Eureka!” moment is that there is no such thing as “too late”. It is never too late to find passion in your life and to embark on something new, even if it is the passion for the rules of grammar .

    And I will be very eagerly awaiting your articles on how to prepare a novel for undergoing the rigorous and painful process of making sense of all the mess, also known as editing. I most assuredly need all the advice I can get .

    • Kestrel
      November 20, 2009 | 01:09

      Hurrah for commenting! Now be sure not to be a stranger to these parts henceforth. ;)

      Keep in mind that I am a rank amateur (and you may ascribe any meaning you wish to the adjective). I probably have learned just enough to be quite dangerous. However, I am also quite motivated to be an effective editor. (Whether the authors agree, of course, is yet to be determined.)

      On the positive side, especially with fiction–as I’ve hinted before–many of the “thou shalt nots” are, in common usage, “thou shalt consider, but not necessarily be bound by, alternatives.” In other words, for example, “that” vs. “which” is not quite so hard and fast as many may understand it.

      In any event, I am looking forward, with great anticipation, to finally getting a chance to read some of the NaNo manuscripts!

  4. Mazil
    November 19, 2009 | 19:28

    Whoa! Would you believe it, I was on your site just a few days ago, looking at the “writing” section of your blogroll to see if you were following any interesting writing-related blogs, because I’d gotten that vibe off you, somehow :) I circled back to re-read that post you made a few months ago, too.

    Congratulations on your newly-realised direction! How exciting! I’m looking forward to reading more writing posts, although I also like reading your general thoughts and “internetty” posts :)
    Mazil´s latest blog post is Anachronisms in Icon Design My ComLuv Profile

    • Kestrel
      November 20, 2009 | 01:14

      Welcome back, Maz! :) Ahh yes; I, too was looking at that section of my blogroll today, thinking it was rather spare. To partially make up for that (and because adding to a site page is considerably simpler than editing the blogroll), I’ve added a few sources under the “On Writing” > “Resources” page, accessible through the nav menu at the top of the blog.

      Of particular note is John McIntyre’s blogroll, which I started perusing on Thursday. It led me off into many delightful tangents, not the least of which was reading an excellent–nay; outstanding–treatment of the “that” vs. “which” issue I referred to in my reply to Iris.

      Thanks again for coming back, and I hope your return trips are equally rewarding going forward!

      • Mazil
        November 20, 2009 | 07:47

        Thanks for the welcome! :D I really should comment more…. I have you nice and safe in my Google Reader, so I read most of your posts, but I am guilty of staying in there and not popping in to comment!

        I went on a wonderful grammar tangent this lunchtime, starting from Tami’s “[Nouns][Verb]” post, above. A discussion on “that” and “which” sounds like a good read, I’ve been wondering about that recently. I’ll definitely check out your writing resources section :) Thankyou!
        Mazil´s latest blog post is Anachronisms in Icon Design My ComLuv Profile

        • Kestrel
          November 20, 2009 | 10:34

          The ‘that’ vs. ‘which’ discussion was the lead (and quite lengthy) article in the Dec 2008-Jan 2009 issue of Copyeditor, available at I haven’t decided yet to pay the $79 for an annual subscription, but that issue is available as a free trial.

  5. Kimberly
    November 20, 2009 | 08:37

    I’m happy for you! I enjoyed your grammar post because I felt your joy in writing it! I can’t wait to see your future work on the subject.

    Less/fewer is my personal grammar gripe at the moment. My weakness is comma usage. I feel that I use too many of them.
    Kimberly´s latest blog post is So you wanna compose for video games? My ComLuv Profile

    • Kestrel
      November 20, 2009 | 10:41

      Let me guess: “10 items or less” lines in grocery stores?

      Increasingly, it appears that usage is garnering support in lexicographical (yes, I had to look that up) circles. However, I will certainly address it at some point, because there is a general distinction.

      And while grammarians may not get their panties in too tight a knot over it, we shouldn’t just throw up our hands in abject surrender.

  6. John
    November 21, 2009 | 13:33

    So glad to hear you’ve had your “eureka” moment, Kestrel! Though I’m still waiting for mine, I’d be interested in joining the grammar wave. I’ve been using Google Wave but, honestly, I’ve been having a hard time getting others to “wave” with me. I think it’s going to be difficult to usurp the position that emails holds for most of us.

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