Editor at Heart

scrapbook (1961-62) scans 11-2010 016

Being an editor at heart, poor usage decreases the enjoyment I derive from certain books.

I heartily approve of self-publishing as it brings us many wonderful books that would otherwise never be offered to the public. Publishing companies no longer determine what we will or will not read.

In this age of self-publishing, however, too many people publish poorly edited books. Please, please, do yourself and your readers a favor and get someone who knows the language to read and edit. An author is usually too close to the work to see obvious mistakes, as they see what is intended rather than what is actually there. Even “just a friend” can help you find usage mistakes, but one of your former teachers or other knowledgeable person would be better. I’m sure almost anyone can find a beta reader or two to make suggestions and corrections.

Lacking those resources, set your work aside for a couple of weeks and then read it, not with love in your eyes, but critically. This is difficult. After all the effort and time spent in creating it, you won’t want to be critical of your baby. But a couple of re-reads and the resulting corrections will end in a project you can be proud to publish.

Edit, revise, rewrite, repeat before publishing.

Mashing an Old Cliche`

Mashing an Old Cliche`

For the past couple of weeks, an old cliche` has been running through my head like a refrain from a song sometimes does. Over and over. I’m so tired of it clanging about in there that I decided to see if writing about it will banish it. Maybe it will transfer to yours!

The maddening phrase is – to the manor born. This, of course, refers back to feudal times, when the lord and his family lived in the big house, the manor, in relative luxury and the serfs lived in comparative squalor on the land the lord owned. The phrase specifically indicated a person was born to wealth, luxury, aristocracy, to superiority — or acted as such.

A few years ago, a friend asked me to proof-read an article in which she had used the phrase, which I guessed she’d heard, but not read, as she used to the manner born. Her usage intrigued me. In her context, it conveyed a similar meaning, but in another context it could convey a different meaning. Manor, in the phrase, has more specificity than manner. You could use to the manner born in another context to indicate a similarity to any behavior. For instance, a rude girl whose mother is known to be rude, could be said to be to the manner born.

It isn’t as though I have occasion to use either phrase often, so why is this bouncing around my cranial regions! Begone! Begone! Banishment!