Thursday, 26 April 2012

On Writing

Jason asked me recently if he could do a post on my blog sometime about what it's like to live with me. (I'm sure it will be full of praise for my organizational skills and endless anecdotes about my snappy wit.) I have agreed that I am willing to try the experiment, with one caveat. Although he is a very funny individual, watching him type gives me the shakes. He has trouble remembering to use capital letters and his lack of punctuation has almost driven me into the nuthouse on more than one occasion. I'm not even going to get started on 'your' and 'you're'; 'their', 'there', and 'they're'; or 'its' and 'it's'. I will vomit. (That said, the man understands that 'regardless' is a word, whereas 'irregardless' is a nonsense term to be used only when you want to sound WRONG (see note). Were it not for that, I wouldn't have married him.)

So today's post actually started out as a brief, one paragraph preface to Jason's one-time-only, never-to-be-repeated post-to-be about the eternal gift that is life with me. However, in the process of writing my paragraph, it seems that the whole thing has now morphed into a post about one of my 'quirks'. Since there are so many to choose from, I will limit today's neurotic discussion to one of my favourite topics. I will call it: 'Proofread, Dammit!'.

(*Note: 'IRREGARDLESS' is not a word. It was never a word. However, it is used constantly in everyday conversation by people who don't know better. Generally, use of the term will cause me to stop listening to whatever the user is saying and discount all future conversations by said user as the ravings of an uneducated maniac. Even , which provides definitions of words that have  become acceptable language as recently as yesterday, has this to say about it:
'Irregardless' is considered nonstandard because of the two negative elements 'ir-' and '-less'. It was probably formed on the analogy of such words as ‘irrespective’, ‘irrelevant’, and ‘irreparable’. Those who use it, including occasional educated speakers, may do so from a desire to add emphasis.)

(*Other note: I also felt compelled to edit and correct the grammar and punctuation within the definition I copied and pasted from I can't help it. Someone has to help the stupid people. There are still a few errors in it, but I can't fix everything without rewriting the entire definition. And that would be silly.)

Since my blog readership has started to expand a little bit, I have gotten comments from a few people about how fast I must type, in order to cram my writing into the few spare minutes I have in each day.

Let me clarify. I am a perfectionist. I am too hard on myself. I obsess over things. If you see a post from me with a time stamp of 5 a.m., let me assure you, it is not because I awoke at 4:30 a.m. to blog. It is because I didn't get started till 11 p.m. the night before and am getting panicky that I won't be finished before the kids get up. For every post I publish, there has been a full hour of typing and at least 2 hours of compulsive checking and re-checking of facts, figures, grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, and punctuation. And there is still always something I miss. (Luckily, my best friend Jamie is always willing to point it out to me a week later, when the whole world has already read what I've gotten wrong. She's a big fan of "Did you catch that spelling mistake in that post from last August? I didn't want to tell you in case it was going to bother you." It's all right. I love her because she's mean.) 

I do not jest. Some days, rather than do the grammar feedback loop one more blessed time, it's easier just to delete the whole thing and start again.

Here's another thing that drives me crazy. If, while you are typing, spell-check flags a word, you can't just arbitrarily hit 'Ignore'. Although I agree that there is a possibility that your computer doesn't understand the context in which you have used the word, really, honestly, 9 times out of 10, Microsoft is smarter than you. I used to work with a girl who was CONVINCED that spell-check was mistaken, and got annoyed with the constant interruptions whenever she typed an email. So the next time it popped up, she added the word 'I'am' to the dictionary. Oh. My. God. Every time I got an email from her, I twitched;

Hi, techs!

I'am going to be staying late tonight to print some reports. If you need anything printed, let me know and I will add them to the ones I'am already doing.


Every time I opened Outlook, it was everything I could do not to correct all her errors, highlight them in red, bold, 26 point font, and re-send the email for her. Seriously. Eventually, the urge to do so became so bad, I had to quit. (Not true. I quit for other reasons. But that should have been one of them.)(And I bet I get at least 1 email from ex-coworkers at that company telling me they know exactly who it is that I'am referring to.)

To sum up: There WILL be a blog by Jason. The sentiments and thoughts expressed therein will be his, but they will have been cleaned up, spell-checked, reworded and punctuated by yours truly. So what we will have is a sort of collaborative work. When we publish it in a few days or weeks, if you laugh, it is to his credit, not mine. He has been stewing about this post for a long time, and I am sure it will be brilliant.

Should you find any errors- grammatical, historical, or factual, those should be laid at his feet as well. They’re not my fault.

(Not many things are.)