When the Pupil Is Ready, the Teacher Will Come

But not, it should be noted, when said teacher is enjoying her leisure time. :)

Seriously, some folks seem to be intimidated because they know I am an editor (whatever that means to them). They think I’m mentally going over their Facebook posts or e-mails, looking for every little grammatical mistake.

But let me assure you, I’m not even paying attention to your typos or word choices. Really. I have never been a corrector. (My sister may take issue with me here.) I will if you want me to, but otherwise I can’t be bothered.

That said, I expect certain standards of myself … and of Those Teaching America’s Youth. I have certainly wanted to correct some of those handouts that came home from the Boy’s teachers. And when I was much younger I told his second-grade teacher that she was spelling bandana incorrectly (she used the double-n version, as does my fave dictionary—the only time Ms. Merriam-Webster and I have ever disagreed). I told this teacher, furthermore, that there were more important words than Kennebunkport for second-graders to learn to spell. Like, say, discover, wonderful, and understand. (Here are 958 of them just right for second-graders.) Needless to say, regardless of the rightness of it (and I’d rather be right than be president), she was mad at me and made the Boy’s life miserable at school all year. That cured me of correcting; I keep my mouth shut. :)

What about work? Sure—that’s my job. But I’m not sitting over here snickering about your word choice or the number of commas you failed to place. I don’t think, What a terrible writer she is! even if you have sent me the Famous E-mail of Self-Doubt (it begins something like this: “I’m pretty sure this is the worst thing I’ve ever written …”). No, no, no.

The plain and simple truth is every traditionally published author has been through the developmental editing phase. Yes, Ernest Hemingway. Yes, Kaye Gibbons. (My idol.) Yes, James Lee Burke. (Another fave.) Yes, Jonathan Franzen. (Freedom. Loved it. Blogged about it.) Yes, Sebastian Barry. (Blogged about him too.) All of them. And I assure you, each manuscript went in looking pretty much the same as your manuscript. And they all got editorial notes. :) This is how the writing process works.

So let’s put one more myth to rest: Your Editor isn’t judging you. Not your tweets, your e-mails, your Facebook status … and certainly not your manuscript.

Tweet: Let’s put one more myth to rest: Your Editor isn’t judging you.
Tweet: Some folks seem to be intimidated because they know I am an editor. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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3 Comments

  1. […] I don’t care if you use it in a Facebook post. I don’t care if you use in an email, on Twitter, or over lunch with me. I don’t care and I’m not counting. (Seriously. I’m on record about this too.) […]

  2. Jeel says:

    I have decided one thing – (If and) when I write my book, I want you as my editor. I am 17 and I have never actually talked to you, but I do know that you are very good at your job. I also feel that I would be very comfortable working with you. I hope you will agree to become my editor. I have a story to tell, but I need someone to help me here. (I am writing a fantasy novel. But I need to concentrate on studies right now as I want to get into college.)

    P.s. I love your blog!

    • Jamie says:

      You just made my day. :) Thank you. :)
      I’ll tell you what. Finish that novel, make it the best you can. Go to college. Take some creative writing courses (I know you will). Write another novel, then another. When you’re done with college and you’ve polished that third novel, holler at me.

  3. […] me started on lie/lay and all the possible permutations of error in that. As I’ve said before, I’m here to help, without judgment. But I won’t always be looking over your shoulder, so what should you do? Hint: Don’t assume […]

  4. […] NOTE: In spite of her delight in this article, Your Editor would like to remind you that she is not even paying attention to how you word your Facebook posts. Honest. […]

  5. […] and colleagues use it wrong—in writing—and I have bitten my tongue, because, as you know, I am not a corrector unless I’ve been asked to be […]

  6. […] to become kinder, gentler. It’s my job to correct. It’s even my job to judge quality. But—as I have said here more than once—an editor does not judge writers, much less her friends and clients and coworkers, […]

  7. […] me started on lie/lay and all the possible permutations of error in that. As I’ve said before, I’m here to help, without judgment. But I won’t always be looking over your shoulder, so what should you do? Hint: Don’t assume […]

  8. Editor Fear says:

    […] fact is I don’t have time to critique Facebook posts or emails or conversations with friends, and I’ve said this many times in many public forums. And—seriously!—if you honestly think I’m mentally correcting you or anyone else, you don’t […]

7 Trackbacks

  1. By 99 Words for Amazing on the Wall … on 21 November, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    […] I don’t care if you use it in a Facebook post. I don’t care if you use in an email, on Twitter, or over lunch with me. I don’t care and I’m not counting. (Seriously. I’m on record about this too.) […]

  2. By Dear Kroger (Why You Need an Editor #5,278) on 13 January, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    […] me started on lie/lay and all the possible permutations of error in that. As I’ve said before, I’m here to help, without judgment. But I won’t always be looking over your shoulder, so what should you do? Hint: Don’t assume […]

  3. By Don’t Be Trolling: “A Typo Is Just a Typo” on 8 December, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    […] NOTE: In spite of her delight in this article, Your Editor would like to remind you that she is not even paying attention to how you word your Facebook posts. Honest. […]

  4. By Begging the Penultimate Question on 20 April, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    […] and colleagues use it wrong—in writing—and I have bitten my tongue, because, as you know, I am not a corrector unless I’ve been asked to be […]

  5. By Proper English: Us Versus Them on 4 April, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    […] to become kinder, gentler. It’s my job to correct. It’s even my job to judge quality. But—as I have said here more than once—an editor does not judge writers, much less her friends and clients and coworkers, […]

  6. […] me started on lie/lay and all the possible permutations of error in that. As I’ve said before, I’m here to help, without judgment. But I won’t always be looking over your shoulder, so what should you do? Hint: Don’t assume […]

  7. By Editor Fear on 20 February, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    […] fact is I don’t have time to critique Facebook posts or emails or conversations with friends, and I’ve said this many times in many public forums. And—seriously!—if you honestly think I’m mentally correcting you or anyone else, you don’t […]

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