Saturday, August 13, 2016

Blood on the Page Mind

The picture on the left shows typing mistakes (I got a few in typing class) and for some reason editing is on my mind. It happens every time I read a book. Words out of place, awkward sentences, repetition, repetition, and using the wrong word sear my eyes and I itch for a red (or blue) pencil to edit.

Most of the time, mistakes are the result of laziness or lack of understanding (or education/training). Often the mistakes are a result of inspiration unwilling to stop and wait for the rational part of the brain to kick in and slow everything down. Many writers lock up the editorial and critical part of the mind in order to keep the writing flowing. If the flow stops, the writing may never get done -- or the writer off the ground. A few writers are determined to break and/or disregard the rules because they are artists and depicting the world as they see it, a world without the hassle and convention of rules to tie them to some outdated way of writing, and people unwilling to see the world as they see it -- without rules, eschewing convention and banality to avoid the petty, bourgeois mind. As if . . . !

And then there are the writers too poor or too lazy to hire an editor because they can do it themselves and the ones that never learned the rules and still sold a lot of stories and articles, believing "if it ain't broke, I ain't gonna fix it".

Whatever the reason for mistakes, typos, and a general disregard for polishing until you're so sick of it you cannot bring yourself to look at the work One. More. Time. I understand you, but I do not accept your excuses.

Or rather, the editor who lives in my mind won't accept anything less than the best, firm in the knowledge that pointing out mistakes, awkward sentences and paragraphs, sloppy punctuation, and repetitive writing are all an opportunity for the writer to learn and improve. It's a humanitarian endeavor -- and not a little kick of satisfaction when writing (and author) improve and change their previous bad habits. And then there is the blood on the page; that soothes a bloody mind.

I admit it. I mentally red pencil the books I read -- unless the writing is so good I am far more interested in what happens next than reaching for my red pencil. It happens rarely, but it does happen, and yet I still note the errors, just without the overwhelming need to feel a newly sharpened red pencil in my fingers poised to strike.

Maybe it is all those years spent as an editor (some of which are ongoing) helping writers make their prose tighter and their descriptions so real the reader wants to open themselves up and drown in the evocative writing that has me aching to show the writer where the book or story could be better. Whatever the reason, I accept that I am an editor at heart that loves books and enjoys writing reviews and critiques with the satisfaction of a gourmand served a meal at a brand new restaurant and still savoring the results. I am an editor at heart.

I am also a reviewer and writer and these facets of my psyche shall not be separated no matter how much time I take off from writing, editing, and reviewing because I am first and foremost a lover of books and words who cannot remember not being able to read. And that ain't Alzheimer's or senile dementia talking either.

That is all. Disperse.

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