Antecedents and gerunds. En dashes and ellipses.
Gripping topics for editors, right?
Well, it turns out they’re not gripping for all of us.
As one of the admins for the Editors’ Association of Earth groups on Facebook, I read almost every post and comment (one group alone had 310 posts and 5,611 comments in a typical 28-day period). I read them to see what people are talking about and to make sure no one is flagrantly breaking the group rules. It turns out reading every post is also an easy way to get a dose of professional development every day.
In every editing forum I’ve been a part of, I’ve always ignored certain topics that have no bearing on me. Things like tax questions or whether to buy a Mac or a PC. And I’ve always skimmed other topics that don’t relate to my work but that are important for me to be aware of. Things like rates or doing sample edits.
But now I find that I’m skimming over a certain topic that used to be of great interest to me. Things like grammar, punctuation and spelling.
Grammar, punctuation and spelling are important aspects of editing. I’m not disputing that.
They’re just not as interesting to me anymore.
- I already know many of the things people ask about.
- I know that if I ever need the information they’re asking about, I can search the group later or I can look it up in a respected resource.
- I’m focusing on other aspects of editing now.
One of the great things about our profession is we all have different combinations of skills that draw us to certain aspects of editing and to various types of editing.
We don’t talk about this
But we don’t talk about this disinterest in grammar very much. I have a strong notion that I’m supposed to feel ashamed of my lack of interest in grammar. In fact, I‘ve pretty much kept this to myself because I don’t want to incur judgment from other editors.
One of our colleagues, Amy Schneider, recently mentioned this in a Facebook post. She said:
“I am that rare breed of editor: the kind who does NOT enjoy reading about or studying grammar. Sure, I understand the basics (OK, plus maybe a little more than non-editors), and I know where to look stuff up if I need a technical explanation. But I don’t know how to diagram sentences (or even find it interesting), I often have to look up what part of speech a word is serving as, and I just don’t give a rip about the past pluperfect modal demonstrative participle.”
I was surprised to see how many other editors chimed in to agree with her. There were a lot. I was one of them because I finally had a safe place to admit to it.
Let’s change this attitude
I’d like to see a change in how we respond to the various skills that we bring to our editing. I want to celebrate our differences and talk about how they can make us stronger when we work together.
For example, I know I’m a lousy proofreader and I’m not as interested in copy editing as I once was. So at my work, I do substantive edits and I let someone who is much better at copy editing and proofreading do those steps. We’re a strong team, together. Much more so than we would each be on our own.
What aspects of editing are you not interested in? Or what areas do you love that others don’t seem to care about all that much?
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