Reading for pleasure

25 08 2010

I’ve always joked that I can’t read unless I have a pen in my hand. Except, it’s not a bloody joke…

Some of you will remember the late Ian Evans, a brilliant photographer and all-round good guy. We shared an office (and a very juvenile sense of humour) when I worked at what was the University of Central England in the 1990s. And we had a neat deal worked out – I’d read through all his assignment briefs and he’d calculate my marks sheets for me on the grounds that his writing was eccentric and I can’t add up unless I can use all of my fingers and toes.

This was all well and good until the day he stuck a letter in front of my nose. In my defence, I had the pile of marking from hell, and was chuntering under my breath as I worked furiously. The letter got the red pen treatment – and I got a bollocking, as it was meant for Evans’s bank manager! Me protesting weakly that he couldn’t have sent it out with errors in cut no ice…

I remembered this today when I was reading some stuff from a writing group I belong to. There are some bloody good writers in it (and cross your appendages, people, as one of them is about to query agents with a book . . .) so it’s never a hardship to read what they’ve written. But hellfire and damnation, I wish some of them would use the services of an editor.

The thing is, we’re not talking full-scale rewrites or anything. We’re talking the sort of thing an editor can tidy up in a jiffy – point of view slips, grammar errors and the odd spelling mistake.

I sometimes wish I could switch my brain off and read purely for pleasure. Most of what I read these days is either for review or to be edited. And on the rare occasion that it isn’t, I always notice and whine about the damn errors! Yes, I know, I probably need to lighten up. Except, I can’t!

I maintain loudly to anyone who will listen (and a lot who turn tail and run) that everyone needs editing. I’ve been writing for a living for 25 years (erk!) and anything I write that’s bound for print has someone to cast a beady eye over it (strews petals at the feet of Linda, Yvonne, Maf and Wayne).

Except, of course, this blog hasn’t been edited by anyone. So I shall sit back and wait for people to point out the howlers!




4 responses

26 08 2010

Spot on again Sharon. But you are very lucky to have so many editors! I only wish that I did – maybe they would prevent some of my many horrors. Anyway it explains why anything of mine that appears at rte appears so much more correct and stylish than anything that appears elsewhere :).

26 08 2010

Thanks, Nick! Yvonne is a splendid editor — she reins in some of my excesses. I am only allowed one exclamation mark per paragraph!

Whoops, there were two there!

2 10 2010

Thank goodness. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who finds it hard to look at pieces of everyday writing and wonder what on earth has happened to some peoples’ use of grammar. I’m a big Facebook user and I find myself constantly itching to comment on my friends’ status’ that it should be ‘you’re’ not ‘your’ or ‘right’ not ‘write.’ Obviously I refrain or I’d end up with about 2 friends, but it is frustrating.

I know my use of grammar and punctuation is far from perfect but it would be nice if people just took some time to make sure that what they’re writing doesn’t make them sound like 5 year olds.

I’m taking Journalism at the University of Portsmouth and I noticed that you are a lecturer for one of our modules in our second year. I’m not actually in your class but good luck nonetheless and I may see you in semester two.

5 10 2010

Hello! Nice to hear from you! And it’s always good to hear that I’m not alone when it comes to twitching and muttering about grammar errors. A lot of people seem blissfully unaware of how they come across online — and they never seem to think that reading something over before hitting ‘send’ might be a good plan . . .

Look forward to meeting you in Portsmouth.

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