Sunday, August 02, 2009
There's a saying...
...among those of us who have been or are still in the news business: "Anyone who says they love to write isn't writing anything all that great."
Now that I'm also an editor, I have found this saying to be doubly true.
What I don't understand - and I'm sorry if this sounds bitchy, but oh well - is why people try to do something professionally, over and over again, that they're not meant to do. Something they have no talent for.
Case in point: I am not, and will never be, talented with math. Ergo, I am not an accountant.
Writing is one of the only fields where the truly untalented think they're the greatest new thing, isn't it? OK, maybe art as well, but for writing, I think it's more obvious. When I worked for a publishing company, it was always the worst writers who were 1) the most demanding, and 2) the most impressed with themselves. In my experience, the truly good (and even the great) writers I have met are not arrogant and even tend to doubt themselves. Fireblossom, who is the greatest poet I have ever read, is very modest.
So because - if I forgot to mention this - I do editing for a site as a volunteer, here are a few tips I'd LOVE to have some writers follow:
1. DO NOT send your article in with a note that says anything to the effect of, "This could use some cleaning up," or "this could use some editing." I have a feeling that within the first sentence of reading, I'll be thinking, "No shit!" I do this for free. Send me your best effort, please.
2. There is one space after each sentence. END OF STORY!
3. Don't use "Canadian English" as an excuse for not being grammatically accurate. Canadian bacon is different - not the entire language.
4. For the love of god, use spellcheck. If you know how to use a computer, surely you can figure this out.
5. Learn how to use semicolons, dashes, and commas. Correctly.
6. When the required word count is 300, don't send me 150. This is like ordering at a restaurant and having half of your food show up.
7. Learn how to use capitals correctly. Didn't you ever watch Sesame Street? Do you need a muppet to sponsor the letter of the day to figure this out?
8. Don't hand me an article with a sentence that is SO bad that it could actually be entered into a bad sentence contest, because I'll just be forced to cry.
9. Please don't use the word "whimsical" more than once in the same paragraph. It just makes me want to gag.
10. If you can't handle these simple rules, do us all a favor: quit writing, and try your luck as an accountant.