Sunday, March 22, 2009

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Creating and Giving People a Break

I’d like to piggyback on Sandra’s wonderful “Fondling Typos” post last week.

I too can relate to her experience because I had a similar one recently. A few weeks ago I was a “guest blogger” on a high traffic writing blog. I was excited for my upcoming post and I had my overworked husband proofread/edit for me. However, he missed a couple of things and so did I. I didn’t realize my errors until one of my writing group buddies e-mailed me (I proudly e-mailed the blog link to the whole group). Then, someone else posted a comment directly to the blog, pointing out the same minor errors. This was followed up by the author of the blog stating that the entry was not written by her and she had now noted and fixed the error.

After all that, I didn’t bother to look anymore. The errors I made did not change the content of what I had written and it was easy to figure out what I meant to say. Needless to say, what I thought would be a proud moment made me feel like an unprofessional loser. One thing that has held me back from writing for so many years is my lack of technical skills. I did not go to college and my grade school training seemed to emphasize lots of reading, but little nuts bolts when it came to writing structure. I always prefer to have someone proofread my writing and, lucky for me, my husband and daughter are always happy to oblige.

Still, I work very hard to try to be more proficient. I study books constantly and I’m hoping to enroll in a grammar basics class at the local Junior College this summer. I look forward to the day when I can confidently write, edit and post my own entries quickly and accurately.

One of the things that attracted me to blogging was I thought it had a forgiving nature. Everything I read about blogging points to the rawness and immediacy of the writing. We all see mistakes on blogs everyday, yet it seems some people’s favorite thing about blogs, is picking them apart. Although none of the comments I received were mean, I still felt like Berger in an episode of Sex and the City.

The episode centers around the main character, Carrie, who is a writer dating another writer whose book has just hit the shelves. She praises his writing style, yet points out to him that his female “Manhattanite” character trots all over town wearing a hair scrunchie and apparently, a true, hip Manhattan gal would never do this. The point is driven home when Berger directs Carrie towards a woman in a nightclub who is, in fact, wearing a scrunchie. But when Carrie takes it one step further and actually goes over and talks to the woman, we hear her southern drawl and squeals of small town naïveté, to find that people thought she could be a “real New Yorker.” Carrie wins the argument, but of course puts an unrepairable dent in her relationship.

The important part of all this was that the book already went to print. Why point out something that can’t be changed? Last week I just finished a novel, a hardbound book where I found a couple of errors. One was a homonym error and the other was a misspelling. Did I take this back to the bookstore and demand a refund? Of course not. Did it take away from the plot, character development, or my enjoyment of the book? No. Is the author aware of the errors in her book? Probably so. Can she do anything about it? Well, you see where I’m going with all of this.

A good blog has content that is relevant to you, the reader. You enjoy a blog because it teaches you something or you can relate to the author’s content. The second thing that makes a good blog is one that is constantly updated with new material. For most bloggers, this means being their own editor. This comes down to the fast edit. How many errors do you see in the newspaper in comparison to a print novel? Personally, I still do all my blogging on Word and cut and paste it to my blogs. I also try to “sit” on whatever I’ve written and re-read with fresh eyes. Lastly, I try to get my husband or daughter to proofread for me and help with my run-on sentences (I’ve greatly improved in this area). This all equals very little content being posted in comparison to how much is actually pouring through my fingers. I admire the bloggers that just “put it there” and could care less if it’s perfect. Bravo to you!

For the grammar snobs, I’m sorry to tell you a new day has dawned. Our correct use of the English language is taking a major hit and for that I understand you trying to fight the good fight. I wouldn’t write if I didn’t love language, structure, punctuation, the whole gamut; but we have to find a way to work together in this new world of immediacy and less than perfect prose. Until we find our common ground, all I can say is, “Can you please give us a break?”

*I respectfully apologize for any errors I may have missed.

1 comment:

Sandra Lee Schubert said...

I feel your pain. I sat with my two other editors yesterday who both said grammar was more important then content. Isn't that saying, "I love Rembrandts use of paint, but who cares what the painting looks like?" It just puzzles me.