A Life Of Fiction CLXIII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Editorial: Yes, this is my irregular editorial. But the blog subject this week is also about the process of editing work.

This subject has come about because one of my close friends keeps suggesting that I try to become an editor. I find that I am not keen on the idea. I think that one of the reasons why I am not keen on the suggestion is because he keeps going on about the subject. I am one of those ornery people who really don’t like other people telling me what to do – even if it is in my interest to do what they are suggesting.

There is also the small matter of the fact that I probably don’t quite possess the qualifications which a person is expected to possess when becoming an editor. I have English and English Literature O levels, as well as an English Literature A level. But that, officially, is the extent of my command of the language. Those exams were also a very long time ago.

Not that I think that I am unable to edit work – far from it. If I am not writing then I am reading. I can spot quickly if something does not appear to be correct. Even in published novels I spot the occasional typo (presumably errors of the printer, rather than the author). They stick out like very sore thumbs.

I have never read a book whose subject matter, specifically, is English grammar. Wading through Eats, Shoots and Leaves has never appealed to me. I think that sometimes the self-appointed guardians of our language can have a too proscriptive approach to variants of grammar and syntax.

I have read a few books on English and on philology, though, by the wonderful David Crystal, and I recommend fully his approach. I have spent the years since failing to get into university getting to know English in my own way.

I know many of the supposed dos and don’ts of the English language. I know that Oxford commas and ending a sentence with a preposition are frowned upon. But, also, I know that the English language is more fluid than some people care to admit. The language is forever changing. It is not something which is set in stone. The only languages which are graven in stone are dead languages.

So if I could edit work to a reasonable degree why not do so? The main reason, I think, far more than any fear of failure, is because I would see it as an implicit admission that I have failed as a novelist and poet and short story writer. For the moment I want to keep retaining the illusion that, one day, I might be discovered and become successful. If editing was to become a source of income – and I certainly don’t make anything from writing, at the moment – I would not be an author, but an editor who also writes.

I have gone as far, though, as to edit a piece of work which was handed to me. Due to the fact that I edit and re-edit as I construct my stories I do very little editing of my work once that work has been completed. This blog, though, has been through a single edit after I completed it.

I would like to say that my editing of somebody else’s work was interesting. It was not. I found it dull and tedious. Every single minute that I was changing commas into full stops, or correcting tenses, I was thinking that I could have been working on my stuff instead. Well, I’m never going to say never. But, unless something drastic occurs to change my point of view, I do not think that such an occupation is for me.

By the way, the above has one glaringly obvious syntactical error. Did you spot it?


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