30 August 2011

On Editing

I recently received a comment on this little blog that ended with this request:

Don't edit this post.

This is not the first time I've received such an ending to a blog comment. Or a facebook message. Or an email. Or a text. Or even a face-to-face conversation. Which, naturally, leads to the following question: 

Are people afraid of me because I am an editor?

I am afrightened that the answer might be, Yes. And because of this, I'd like to take the time to clear up some things here for you.

Being an editor does weird things to your brain. You are aware of elements like spelling, grammar, and punctuation in all written media. Newspapers, fliers, signage, websites, magazines, advertisements, T-shirts, TV commercials, basically anything that employs words. Which is basically everything. Because of this, I have a filter system set up in my head (how cool would it be if there was a real filter there?). It goes like this:

Levels of Reading
1. Reading to read (pleasure)
2. Reading to understand (information)
3. Reading to proof (light edit)
4. Reading to edit (decent edit)
5. Reading to revise (major edit)
6. Reading to rewrite (life depends in this)

That having been established, let me categorically state, on the record, that I do not ever edit blog comments/facebook messages/texts/emails/gchats/face-to-face conversations. Do I occasionally notice an incorrect or amusing usage in these forums? Yes, of course. Even normal people do. Will I occasionally comment on said incorrect or amusing usage? Perhaps, if it's particularly funny or I know the user of the irregularity will appreciate it. But I will not correct your language use in casual speech (i.e. any mode of social media and/or personal communication). In fact, I will not correct your language use in formal speech unless you specifically request my editing skills. And even then I will ask that you specify which type of edit you'd prefer. I do this for two reasons: Firstly, I need to know what you have in mind (Light run through for all the right comma placements? Or I desperately need this job and want you to make this as brilliant as possible?) or there can be all kinds of confusion. Secondly, I read differently depending on what is required of me. 

So please, don't be afraid that I'm constantly judging your knowledge of the English language. I'm not. 

Or if I am, I certainly won't let you know. 


  1. Oh my heavens, Allison. I second everything you just said. I never want people to think I'm this grammar robot who only sees mistakes. When I get the opportunity to talk about editing, I always try to convey it as a way that I make [the writer, speaker, etc.] look better.

    I get that line all the time, and I wish I didn't.

  2. Correction: who sees only mistakes

    I realize how ironic (I'm always afraid to use that word, but I think it's appropriate here) it is that I edited my own post, and I think it's hilarious.

  3. Hey hey hey, that was my post. This post is awesome. I just know you have mad editing skills and I suck. And when i comment on stuff i dont like to feel like im writing a paper. Thats bad....i know. Haha! I can't believe you wrote this. Bliss!

  4. hahaha.

    Can I add that you are an awesome editor and you can correct me whenever.