About two years ago, I started doing a weekly post on Twitter, where I give an editing tip and sign it #TheDisgruntledEditor. Because of that, I have been asked by several people if I am an editor. Once I stop laughing, I tell them no. I am most definitely not an editor. I work with several fantastic editors, because I am well aware of the fact that I need them. My general attitude toward commas is that you just sprinkle those fuckers in wherever it looks good. Apparently that’s wrong. Very wrong.
So why the disgruntled editor posts? Those posts came about, as thoughts that I am sure my editors have whenever going over my work. Or at least the thoughts that I have while going over my work. I am the disgruntled editor, because I don’t like doing it, and I’m not very good at doing it, especially to my own work. Really, who is? That is why, I have come up with a list of things that I check on any significant piece that I write before handing it off to my editor. I came up with this list based upon recurring comments that I would get. I figure, if they had to tell me to do something more than twice it is clearly a habit that I’ve gotten into, and the least I can do is check my work for them before sending it off. I say the least I can do, because what I should really do is learn how to properly use commas … however, as I don’t see that happening anytime soon, I go over my list instead.
What is this list, you ask? It’s a compilation of common redundancies, superfluous word phrases and helping verbs that often make a sentence passive and therefore less interesting. These are things that I can easily fix myself, and therefore free my editor up to focus on the more technical aspects of my copy. Like semi-colons. Seriously, how the fuck do you properly use a semi-colon? This is a rhetorical question of course. It has been explained to me more times than I can count, and every time the explanation goes in one ear and right out the other. My brain couldn’t seem to care less about their proper use. Once in a great while I will get one right, and when I do I celebrate. I call it the semi-colon dance. Every other time, my editor fixes it for me.
I have come to accept this about myself, and I’ve moved on. Instead of berating myself for not being able to grasp these concepts, I snarkily point them out for others via the Disgruntled Editor. And I have my list. It is how I actively edit, and feel better about my willy-nilly use of punctuation. For all of you writers out there like me, who want to give your editor’s a bit of a break, click here and I’ll send you my list. Or if you have a list, or something you always check for let me know! I’m constantly adding to my repertoire!