not quite, but close (brief and probably erroneous thoughts on copy editing)

Monday, March 9, 2015

This coming September, Temple University Press will publish a collection of my essays and photographs called Love: A Philadelphia Affair.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that I've spent the better part of yesterday and today with notes from the very gentle copy editor. Which is to say that I've spent these hours in rigorous mortification of myself.

Okay, so maybe that term doesn't make actual sense, but I'm just going with it, because, hey, might as well be myself. Or, I could fill the rest of this blog with commas that, shouldn't, be there. Or maybe I should just use the same phrase twice. (I'll use the same phrase twice.) And if I seem to be calling you by your surname as I speak to you here, why don't I just switch it up and go with your given name? Nothing like keeping a reader on her toes? His toes? Their toes?

And if I tell you that I'm moving toward you, you'll know what I mean. That I am moving TO you. See? I've just arrived.

It's not even what the kind copy editor has noted that remorses me out. It's what I see in myself, my old writing tics, my go-to poetics. It's me on the page, and golly by joe (I'm making more things up), I often wish I were other.

Was other?

Why can't I write like Michael Ondaatje at his best? Why not Alice McDermott at her most precise? Why Why Why couldn't I have bought my Kitchen Aid sooner (KitchenAid?) and given my life over to olive oil cakes and fudgy brownies? Fudge-y brownies?

I want a do-over, Writing Life.

I want a better brain.


Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

You are you and we are glad.

Unknown said...

We all have those go-to errors and tics; i still see the same ones.

Unknown said...

Thank you for writing-your transparency and style resonates with my heart

Victoria Marie Lees said...

My dear, you would not be as precious if you were not you.
I agree with Jennifer, Serena, and Rachel. The little habits all writers have, I know I sure do, are what makes our writing real and relatable to humans.

Unknown said...

This cracked me up! We all think we are masters until someone reminds us of our weaknesses. And I'd bet even Michael Ondaatje and Alice McDermott can attribute part of their best writing to good editing.

Ros said...

I don't think that not knowing every grammar fine point is a weakness. Writers should have a reasonable grasp on language but EDITORS are the objective eye to rely on in the last stages of preparing a document. They're really good at it and they love it. FYI, we are all more or less good editors for someone else's work.
Let the authors get their noses right up there against the trees and let the editors drag them back (nicely) so that they can once again, notice the forest.
A good editor is gold.
Right, Starla King!? -- who edited my recent book. Just amazing at what I missed.

jenn said...

Oh, this was funny! And having recently gone through copyedits on my book I can relate!

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