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!

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