Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, July 25, 2021

It’s true: When you massage the written word for a living, there’s no happy ending.

The job has its perks — an accumulation of random knowledge, for instance — but it also has its side effects when you unintentionally drink the copy Kool-Aid. Once you train yourself to spot errors, you can’t not spot them. You can’t simply shut off the careful reading when you leave the office. You notice typos in novels, missing words in other magazines, incorrect punctuation on billboards. You have nightmares that your oversight turned Mayor Bloomberg into a “pubic” figure. You walk by a beauty salon the morning after you had sex for the first time with a guy you’ve been seeing and point out that there’s no such thing as “lazer” hair removal, realizing that this may not be the best way to get to have sex with him again.

I’ve never consciously let grammar-policing get in the way of personal relationships. The closest I’ve come is in playing the spoiler to those early-Internet chain emails which contained the usual crackpot urban myths. Friends and family would inexplicably get mad at me for debunking nonsense like the Oliver North “warning” about Osama bin Laden back in 1987, and subsequently exclude me from the forward-message fun. (So I guess my compulsiveness paid off!)

Even though copyediting isn’t my primary gig anymore, I find the auto-editing switch in my brain never has turned off. In fact, it’s gone beyond bulls-eyeing mere typos — hardly a sporting pursuit since the advent of the filter-less Web. I now find it hard to read, watch, or listen to any lengthy piece, and not critique its overall structure: How it could have been shortened here, reworked in that section, and so on. I can’t decide if it’s a real problem for me or not. In some ways, it’s gratifying (on a strictly personal, internal level).

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/25/2010 05:23pm
Category: Creative, Publishing
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