Monday, 20 February 2012

Blogs. Grammar nazis. Editing. Stuff.

Life's busy. The real one, as in earning a living and running a house and having a social life. So, of course, now that SL works again, my brain tends to have shut down by the time I log in.


Bad me. But this is cyclic, and my SL to a large extent depends on how much work I have in (ah the freelance life), so it is - I hope - due to swing a little towards the 'more time for me' end of the spectrum.

My daughter just sent me this image and... why of course I look like Nicole Kidman. Or actually no, I look like a female version of the one at the bottom right. And the bloodshot eyes and caffeine in the face of deadlines applies to all I do, translations and the rest. Heh.

I have, in fact, just churned out a honking great report (as in written it) and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with an equally honking great translation (while hoping it's not another train coming, and am hence taking a break to rant write something that I don't get paid for).

(If you're bored with this stuff, sorry... I do predict a return to dodgy SL photography and plugging my builds and stuff before 2013).

Get to the subject, woman.  Here it is.

I skim lots of blogs over the daily triple shot of expresso early in a morning, however busy I am (and read news after dinner, and books before going to sleep: I am a creature of habit).

(If you write / edit / translate for a living, you need to read. Widely. Simple as that.)

Since I figured out Google Reader, the blogs I read regularly range from food, decor, SL blogs and a smattering of more random things I discover in various ways (waves to a friendly physicist whose non-physics blog often makes me smile - AND he can spell and punctuate... heh).

Now, I don't expect blogs to be literature. Some are, but most are just fun or fascinating in other ways. Also, I can hardly look down my nose about personal blogs being less than polished considering the typos spread liberally around in this one and my ongoing battle with dodgy photos.

OK, and the rambling. I do know I ramble. It's the liberating thing about my unpaid writing. Live with it ;)

So, as far as I'm concerned, fill your blogs with anything you like (pale pink text, droopy mouthed models, fashion I'd not be seen dead in, recipes I'd avoid like the plague, histrionic self-congratulation and navel-gazing) and I'll decide whether to read it. Attract my interest, good or bad, and half the battle is won. I can ignore misplaced apostrophes. Really I can. Sometimes.

So far, so good.

One blog in particular, however, has made me half chuckle and half groan lately. It's one I always read with a sort of train wreck fascination for various reasons, and one that made my eyes roll when I first stumbled on it via another SL blog a while back, since the writer calmly stated 'I hate editors because they ruin my superb artistic expression' (paraphrased but you get the gist).

Hmmm. I'll get back to that.

However, this person's latest project is quite entertaining. She has decided to teach people about "writing for a profit". Apparently she does, and kudos to her. Sort of.

Considering I've been living off my ability to line up words since the Stone Age, I'm all for people offering sound advice although you'd never catch me attempting to teach it because I am too old and cranky.

Whether it's writing, translating or editing, my daily bread is all about being able to string words and phrases together with a certain degree of style and accuracy, and preferably enjoying it (mostly, I do enjoy it although we won't mention translating pension fund regulations). It's also about keeping clients happy despite impossible deadlines. Oh, and finding the clients in the first place.

No sh**, Sherlock. I'm also pretty talented at stating the obvious.

(This is a family-friendly blog, by the way, so interpret the asterisks. Thanks).

There are worse professions, even though I always fancied being a fighter pilot.

Yes, seriously.


(Yes, of course there's a but).

If you're going to generously bestow your knowledge of writing on others, it would kinda sorta help to learn about apostrophes (and spelling, and a few other things). And it would help even more to avoid statements about hating editors, considering the said blog is supposedly a showcase for the said blogger's writing. Oh, and to stop with the fancy schmancy pale pink text bits that I am too lazy to highlight so I can read it. But that's a detail.

Some editors suck, I quite agree. I had a (professional) line editor for a book who was imposed on me a couple of years back, and who seemed to know less about it than I know about nuclear physics. But he did pick up (some of) my typos and a few inconsistencies.

However, some can be quite useful (understatement), and not just for sorting out your grammar.  I have a couple of editors / correctors who may well see me as the kid in the photo above but mostly we enjoy the synergies (I get mortified, argue, but am usually desperately grateful. And when I have my editor's hat on, I also aim for collaboration not dictatorship. Not sure whether I succeed, but I try.).

Although editing your own writing is possible if you have a sharp eye and can take the necessary distance, a fresh view can identify things your own brain refuses to see or grammar issues you haven't mastered (is apostrophe use really so hard? I do wonder sometimes). 

It is just too arrogant to consider that editors ruin your writing, though. Bad ones do. Good ones make it way better and way more 'saleable'.

Maybe I'm a grammar nazi. I don't think so, because my take is that if you (or your client or readers) really don't care about such 'details', then that's fine. Really. But it says plenty about a client if they don't care, and it speaks volumes about a wannabe writer if they think they're too good to be edited, despite not mastering punctuation or spelling. 

In an ideal world, as in when you get to be courted by publishing houses, you get to choose your main editor, who gets to the nitty-gritty of the structure, the architecture, lots of things - and who is not necessarily a line editor but I'll spare you yet more rambling on types of editors and editing.

In reality, until you have proved yourself, you don't get to choose. Which is why I got idiot-face line editor to deal with, who decided to change official terminology, 'correct' quoted extracts, misuse semi-colons, and apply a totally inconsistent capitalisation system. He was a doozy, and arrogant with it. The series editor? He was / is a gem and I soaked up every suggestion and frantically rewrote parts because he was right.

Maybe, just maybe, some writers have enough talent to get away with basic errors (and enough humility to know that you need somebody to pick up your typos and misplaced apostrophes at the very least), but today, in the real world of publishing and paid writing, sloppy copy usually means immediate rejection.

And cranky old broads like me laughing at you over her morning coffee.

There, I ranted. And I should go build something, right?


Mr. Crap Mariner said...

On a semi-related issue, I think a few folks who are thumbs-downing the LL offer of exposure-for-free content have qualms with the editing skills of those who would chop and dice their pieces to fit the LL marketing message.


Plasma Engineer said...

Waves back! I loved this post - let's have more of this in future s'il vous plait. (Will venture a correction to your apostrophication elsewhere). :) Thanks for the compliments about my speeling.

Plasma Engineer said...

Waves back - and trying a second time to comment.


Yes. I have to confess the idea of conforming to the LL marketing message doesn't exactly tempt me either.

Editing or being edited just to toe a party line of any sort is always something to consider: it depends on just how much you want to be published / associated with something.

Whiskey Day said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

Deoridhe said...

I tend to be relatively tolerant of typos in general, grammar is a bit more of a nails-on-chalkboard, and I'm downright charmed by obvious typed-tics that advance a certain style or 'sound' in a written environment (as well as indulging myself with a plethora of ~s and purposeful misspellings like rilly), but text speak in a keyboard environment sets my teeth on edge (and I'm not that fond of it even in a phone-typed context; I certainly don't use it). I adored being edited, though. I've had non-professional editing in fanfiction which was glorious (and really helped with some character development and resisting easy/poor characterization) and professional with my dissertation, and in both cases I found it really improved my final work in terms of having other perspectives on what I was saying which caught what I assumed everyone would know because I knew it, and I'm everywoman, right?

I second posts like this! I love being spurred to think about things and wax rhapsodical on myself, and it's fascinating to hear other perspectives and responses.

Hope Full said...

I agree, blogs should be well crafted and written. If people are going to take the time to read them, the writer should respect that and write accordingly. Thanks for the reminder,
Over Joyful

Pedro said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Now I don't mind critical comments, but I DO mind free advertising for an RL decor company in Spain ;)

Hence deleted (sorry Pedro).

Thanks so much for the (positive) comments, however!