A wonderful thing has occurred. CP said she would proofread the infamous newsletter.
I accepted her offer before she could retract it. She looked at the draft yesterday. This morning she pointed out errors and I corrected them.
I did my own proofing for the first three issues. That was risky.
I’ve always been compulsive about grammar and mechanics. When I discovered one of the Nancy Drew mysteries my grandmother gave me for my eighth birthday was short a set of quotation marks comma, I immediately reported it to my mother. I can spot a recieve at 5,000 yards. David and I amuse ourselves when driving by pointing out misplaced apostrophes on Dairy Queen signs.
But my own work is another thing, especially after I’ve been shuffling the same words around hour after hour. The characters begin to run together. Hence the risk. I proofed those first three issues within an inch of their lives and mine.
CP’s help makes that intensive effort unnecessary. In fact, as I admitted to her earlier today, I was downright slipshod with this issue. I read and reread and made some changes, but finally I said to myself, “Phooey. Somebody else can deal with this.” And she did.
And now the task is completed, the newsletter is online, and all I have to worry about proofing is this post. I’m already wondering whether I should do anything to the Nancy Drew up there. Italics? Not quotation marks. Bold? A small heading font?
It’s easy, especially for an OCD like me, to obsess about mechanics and forget what’s really important. A recieve now and then, or a misplaced comma, doesn’t constitute sin. Comma “rules” are changing even as I write. Those are small things. It’s meaning that counts.
But small things matter, too. A recieve at the wrong time and place may suggest the writer is careless or inept. Absence of a serial comma can alter the meaning of a contract.
…the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
So, as much as I’d like to throw commas to the wind, I shall continue to run spell- and grammar check (but not believe all it says) and watch for omitted words and remember that as a paid-up member of P.O.E.M. (the Professional Organization of English Majors), I have a duty to preserve the written language to the best of my ability.
Having written this serious and incredibly pedestrian paean to punctuation, I will share my favorite spelling rule:
I before E except after C, and E before N in chicken.
I learned that from the Andy Griffith Show when I was about ten. Later, I tried to share it with my high school students, but they looked at me funny. So I finally gave up.
Which is also what I’m doing now. Giving up. No more commas, no more apostrophes, no more poultry. I’m going to post this before midnight and then proceed to get my days and nights untangled.
By the way, you can disregard most everything above the apostrophe. I strive for correctness, but the serial comma is the only punctuation mark I’d consider going to battle over. And, having discovered a late-blooming case of dyslexia–which I’m told has always been here, but who knew?–I’m much more tolerant of creative spelling than I used to be. And the O on this keyboard is wonky and I’m too tired to care.
S any errors you find in this pst are fair gaim. Feel free to point them out in a smment. Because I’m nt profing anything tnight.
- “Why It Is Vitally Necessary To Prevent The Extinction Of The Final Serial Comma” Ctd (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
- The return of the final serial comma’s vital necessity (nielsenhayden.com)
4 thoughts on “Day 2”
My theory with commas is–if it looks like it doesn’t have, enough, I add, more. If it looks like it has too many I delete a few.
Never seen that method fail–not often, at least.
Works for me. The one thing I learned from teaching is that as soon as you mention commas, they start multiplying in student papers. Same with apostrophes. If I were teaching today, I don’t think I would even mention them. I’ll save the worry for when I’m paralegaling.
For me spelling errors leap off the page, even before grammar and punctuation. However creative punctuation, or lack thereof, on signs is something my daughters and I photograph and exchange for laughs. Besides being rather compulsive, we’re also easily amused.
When I work on something when I’m really really tired, I’ve learned not to post it until I can read it once more with eyes that don’t have to be propped open with toothpicks. Saved me a few public gaffes.
Isn’t it strange how errors do jump out at you? I pulled up an announcement for a paralegal position–one of those with a list of about two dozen skill in tiny font–and my eye went immediately to the one misspelled word right in the middle of the page. That was especially amusing, because the misspelling resulted in a skill no attorney would want in his office.
I’m bad about sending posts out late at night, as if they couldn’t wait a few more hours. I should know better, because I well remember a letter I got from a state agency–and I feel free to tell this story because I heard the writer herself tell it in front of a large audience. The letter was sent to every “Pubic Library Director” in Texas. A case for doing one more proof and against depending on spell check.
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