27 November 2007

Editor (Almost) Constantly at Work

My cousin swears that she once saw a sign that read:

Trespassers Will Be Violated

Hmmmm...if that sign was on an empty lot in the middle of nowhere, should the police have been looking for bodies?

Misspellings, poor word choices, incorrect punctuation: you can find examples every day. Sometimes I dislike that I notice these things, especially when what I find distracts me from the message. I want to turn off my internal editor sometimes; I don't want to imagine picking up a pen when I read and drawing bright, red circles around offending errors. In print I don't expect to find such errors. I don't expect to find them in emails and business documents either, but I do. I don't want to rant about lack of spelling and grammar skills, but I do wonder: do people not know, are they careless, or do they just not care? For me, the thought of having a typo as big as a barn door in my writing is anxiety-producing. I don't want anything that I have written and is available to others to read to have mistakes in it.

Now, lest I come off as looking like I think I'm perfect, I must admit that my last post was full of errors. I was nodding off to sleep last night as I wrote my post on Beowulf. I was suffering from that kind of tired where it is impossible to keep an entire thought in your head for the length of one sentence. Random words were typed as if I were using a Ouija board rather than a keyboard. Determined to post because of NaBloPoMo, I reviewed my post with a sleepy proofreading eye. It all made sense to me. Until this morning when I re-read the post. Not only did I find several grammatical errors (I think I've fixed most, but I wouldn't be surprised if more remain), but it was worse than a first draft of anything. Ill-formed, poorly worded, not very interesting. For a blog post, maybe it shouldn't matter too much. But it does to me.

Rereading that post -- and deciding whether I would just hit the delete button -- led me to thinking about this endeavor to try to post everyday for a month. As a writing discipline, it has been good exercise. I've written when I didn't want to. I've written when I didn't think that I had anything to say, only to find that I did. Without a commitment to writing something on a regular schedule, it is too easy to blame Writer's Block and turn off the computer. But, writing something for the sake of simply meeting a quota doesn't support good quality writing. While some people may use their blogs as a personal journal, I like my posts to be a bit more polished than a journal entry. I cringe when I see that I have a typo or other error in my posts, and I tend to labor too much on them. Knowing that someone might read it -- even if it is only a couple dozen people, most of whom I am not likely to meet -- it's difficult for me to post something that has mistakes in it.

The disciplined routine of writing regularly can be beneficial. I'm just not sure that this spot is where I will continue to do so on a daily basis after this month ends. 3 more days to go!


Charlotte said...

Cam, I'm with you on the constant editing! A misplaced apostrophe or other violation against grammar irritates me like itchy skin.

And you're so right about the writing discipline. Although it's sometimes been a drag for me, it's been a great experiment to see that I can write every single day, despite having house guests, multiple deadlines and three small children. I woke up this morning with five short stories ideas! So NaBlo has been a good experience for me, even if I've complained and moaned and done far too many memes.

Charlotte said...

I note the grammar error in that comment - I meant "short story ideas".

bloglily said...

I'm impressed, really impressed, by this daily writing enterprise. I think it does have unintended benefits, as Charlotte points out. Sometimes just writing regularly off the top of your head gets you to things you didn't know were there. Anyway, kudos to you and, honestly, I don't ever remember seeing any typo or grammatical error here! But now I know why -- you actually proofread... xo, BL

Cam said...

Charlotte, I agree that it has helped me think of more things to write about. If I take away only one thing from this effort, it will be that I should write more in my notebook -- free form, without editing, without concern for anyone reading it.

I'm impressed that you've done this daily with all that you have going -- and with 3 small children! Wow!

Lily: There are plenty of errors -- but thank you for not noticing. I reread my post this evening and thought: egads I wrote "a typo as big as a barn door in my writing" instead of "a typo in my writing as big as a barn door". A fatal error? Well, of course not, but -- at least for me -- it is the rapidity of writing and posting without the time for thoughtful editing and re-writing that I dislike with the posting every day. I am glad that I did this though and stuck with it for 30 days. That is, if I get something written for today before the clock strikes 12.

Dorothy W. said...

I have enjoyed posting every day and one of the reasons I enjoy it is the pleasure of coming up with ideas -- I know exactly what you mean about sitting down at the computer with little to say and finding the ideas come! I feel ambivalently about continuing to post every day -- there are arguments for it and against it (for me, at least), and I feel both sides pretty strongly. We'll see.

Cam said...

Dorothy, One of the things that concerns me about NOT continuing to post every day is not have a routine that forces you to post. Sometimes when you don't do something for awhile, it makes it more difficult to begin doing it again.