I hope you always have smooth sailing working with your editor.
I know that we are dreaded like the plague
And good writers all have been known to beg
For leniency, or “for just this once”
“Let me please have my participles in a bunch…”
It’s not rocket science or even a hunch
There really are tried and true rules
That adhere to the ‘Elements of Style’ clues
The bible, so to speak, on traditional editing
There is a right way and a wrong way for betting
On your words, finding your way
To take your thoughts and what you say
And put it in verse for another day
Or lovely prose with descriptive highlights
To tickle someone’s fancy and take them to new heights
In appreciating a well-edited dialogue
So your momentous scene isn’t bogged
Down, dribbling with boring facts
Or inconsequential IT hacks
Who’d rather be staring at patterns in binary
Who cares about your words? So secondary
To your science, technical, and professional views
If you can’t spill the beans on the most recent news
In your industry and do it justice
Your words are just tracks of scuffs
Showing you’ve been there
But you just didn’t care
About the right ways to present
Your latest new plot or business event
When you need to get the word out
By better means than just a shout
Editors can make it delectable–
Extract the extraneous, enhance the essential
Let your words speak for themselves
Letting your editor proofread and clarify
With accuracy and consistency
What you need to in-print upon the masses
For all time, literate passes
Through the online super highway
To express your desires, put out the fires
On the subject matter that you share with your peers
Releasing your fears, making the syntax clear
Yeah, an editor can do all that…
–© 2016 by Deborah A Bowman.
Editing from yesteryear…
Just this weekend I posted a blog with a misspelled word in the heading–“dos” instead of “does”. Well, my Spanish isn’t good enough to pawn it off as the number two, which didn’t make sense anyway, so there I was with the only line showing on the link broadcasting my error. A delightful friend immediately sent me a comment on Facebook, “Is this an editor’s test? lol” Why didn’t I just go with it and say, “Yes!”? I caught it and fixed it right after I hit “Publish” on WordPress, but since I have automatic share for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, it was out there for all to see. In my haste to remedy this, I sent the whole post to trash. It was a rather lengthy poem with visually descriptive words, now lost and gone forever, except for the heading postings everywhere which now link to nothing.
As much as every writer and editor would love to have an all-knowing editing key or a magic wand to clean up any discrepancies and errors/typos in a manuscript, business letter, a blog posting, even an email, it just doesn’t exist. The human element of eyes, ears, and touch remains the only way to be sure you’ve said what you meant to say in a manner that will relate to your target audience.
There’s no way a computer can think and analyze like a human brain. We speak and write metaphorically, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastically with puns and wit and comparisons that a machine governed by a finite set of rules and commands cannot comprehend. The hard drive doesn’t care how many times you use the same, monotonous word in a sentence, in a paragraph, on a page, in a chapter. Nor does your spell-check, grammar-check, or latest software package notice inconsistencies in who, what, when, where, and how.
Wouldn’t it be hilarious if you sent an RSVP with all the information garbled by the automatic words the smart phones or tablets choose for you? For example, misspelling both names: Who was giving the event and for whom; What the event was–hmm..wouldn’t that make for a colorful dress code, jeans and shorts to black-tie and gown, perhaps festive and mourning attire; When the event was occurring–time and date; and Where? Of course a misspelled street name and an incorrect address number and zip code. How to get there? Try GPS or mapquest on that one!
You can’t trust your own eyes to show you what you’ve written. They see what they expect to see.
You can’t hear your mistakes in your mind as you read silently to yourself. Your inner ear hears what it expects to hear.
You can’t touch your words on the screen with a pencil, a pen, an eraser. If you print it out your eyes, ears, and engrained memory of what you’ve written will still have you reading right over a misplaced, forgotten, or left out word.
All is not hopeless. You just need a proofreader or editor who hasn’t seen your words before. Also, editors train their senses to see, to hear, and to touch inconsistencies, discrepancies, and content that is awkward or structurally unsound. They just can’t proofread for themselves. I don’t see technology changing these basic human traits.
So please let me know if I’ve messed up again. I’m always grateful for a chance to make things right.
Looking down the aisle of my favorite place,
The library, my special haven, where I always feel at home.
But suddenly, something tilts and my pulse starts to race.
What is happening to the sacred shelves I love to roam?
I was doing some research for the next great American novel.
I was feeling pressured, scared, not up to the challenge.
“Can anyone out there help me?” I cried as I slid to the floor to grovel
Amongst those ancient tomes of wisdom and knowledge.
I knew the world would right itself again
If I just waited patiently for the confusion to end.
Have I stumbled into the dreaded writer’s block?
Will I be able to pull myself out of the depths of despair?
All I have ever wanted to do with my life is lock
Myself in my room and write all that I want to share.
My emotions are visible for all the world to see;
My soul is bared; my words on display.
I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and feel free,
But the spinning hasn’t stopped, and I’ve lost my way.
As if a miracle has finally been granted
I find the minute fact that has been so elusive.
The world is balanced; the aisle no longer slanted.
I just needed one obscure reference to be productive.
When I open my eyes, there is no library…
Only search engines that can be so contrary.
–Deborah A. Bowman