There’s a reason I’ve edited others’ writing using green ink for the past thirty-five years; I hate bleeding pages. While many attribute their aversion to editing to their grade school years, seeing red ink on graded papers didn’t bother me too much. Mostly because there were few mistakes caught (note I said caught, not made). As long as I received a passing grade, I didn’t get too concerned over the amount of red ink. Then, imagine this; I began a career as a technical writer. This introduced me to a level of editing trauma I may never fully recover from. Has any other writers investigated to see if Post Traumatic Editing Syndrome (PTES) exists?
After my military service and several years programming computers, my need to write won out. Yes, we had computers in those days; they required card readers, reel-to-reel magnetic tapes, and lots of air conditioning. Before writing professionally, I used my God-given talents for communicating using the written word. I wrote magazine pieces, a few newspaper articles, and was editor for our local and district Lions Club’s newsletters.
In the early 1990s, I published an award-winning newsletter in Florida for Lions Clubs International. Our Lions Club’s “tail twister”, a person whose job was to introduce fun and enjoyment into each meeting, took great delight in finding mistakes in that newsletter. It was all in good fun, and the fine was only a quarter, but it pointed out to me how important copyediting is. I also learned to rely on people and not a technology to catch my writing mistakes.
After a few months of those fines, I didn’t quite see the “fun” anymore, and decided to have some of my own. I penned (or at least I thought I did) two short stanzas of a poem. It proved to be a big hit among my fellow editors around the different clubs across the state. I’m including it here for your enjoyment.
I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It highlights their four my review,
Miss steaks eye cannot sea.
I ran this poem threw it,
I’m shore your pleased too no.
Its letter perfect in it’s weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.
About two months ago, a subscriber pointed out an error in one of my posts on this blog. While appreciated, it reminded me of that old poem. To be clear; I was most grateful for my reader pointing out that error. In fact, I sent them a note of thanks for catching it and letting me know so I could correct it before others also noticed.
During my early business writing career, I was not that fortunate. After the mandatory editing pass, our user manuals and step-by-step instructions were a mangled mess of notes that were “bleeding to death” from all the red ink. Worse, while making the documents grammatically correct, the meanings, steps, and guidance was so unclear it became almost impossible for users to complete the tasks using the documents.
With time, and lots of patience on both sides, the quality of my writing and the documents my team produced increased. It was during this time, I instituted a peer editing function within my writing group. It served two purposes; lessening the workload on the editors and assisting us writers in seeing the value of quality editing. In ways, I was creating what we know as a critique group today; wherein writers help each other get better and present a more polished manuscript to potential publishers and their editorial staffs.
As a Christian writer, I’m finding a much deeper appreciation for editors. Mostly, I’ve found friendly souls whose sole intent is to make what I’ve written better. They catch my silly mistakes, improve the document’s clarity and conciseness, and help the narrative flow better. I’m a much stronger writer with the help of my editor friends than without them. In fact, it’s safe to say I’m not the writer my editors make me out to be.
All this has caused me to think about how much God overlooks my shortfalls; and loves me despite my human self. My reader friend pointed out the error in my post in a loving manner rather than with an accusatory tone. What a difference how we approach someone can make. I thought of 1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV), which reads “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ ” When I think on that, I can’t think of a better example of showing grace to someone.
God’s grace, mercy, and love have overcome many sins in my life. I must admit them; and ask His help to overcome them, but He is always willing to give me that opportunity to become more like His Son. Editors don’t expect my manuscript to be perfect. If it were, they might well be out of a job. Yet, they should expect our writing to be as clean and error free as possible; much as I suspect God desires us to live out our lives.God doesn’t expect perfect; He expects our best effort. He’ll do the heavy lifting in our lives if we let Him. Click To Tweet
As for that fun little poem I thought I wrote? I dug through the archives and found a copy of that newsletter piece. While I may have written those lines in the vacuum of my office many years ago, others have added to it and claim an ownership I don’t wish to question. With that said I’ll close this post by citing a full-length poem by Mark Eckman and Jerrold H. Zar; entitled Candidate for a Pullet Surprise, referred to today as “The Spell Checker Poem.”
Citation: Nordquist, Richard. “The Spell Checker Poem.” ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/spell-checker-poem-by-mark-eckman-1692348 (accessed September 19, 2019).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this whimsical post and I’ve brought a smile to your face and a moment of laughter into your life. Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your time with me today.