One of the toughest relationships to build in the editorial world is the one between the writer and the editor. You would think that two people with a love for the written word would have a natural understanding of one another, but that’s rarely the case. And unless you’ve been on both sides of the fence, it’s really hard to see it from both perspectives. So here’s a little insight.
From the writer’s perspective:
Creating the written word comes easier to some than to others, but generally speaking, writing is tough, arduous (but eminently rewarding) work. Sometimes a writer can spend hours, days, weeks, or an eternity coming up with the exact word, the exact phrase, the perfect sentiment to capture the moment, the feeling, or the subtlety they’re trying desperately to convey. And now along comes an editor, with no knowledge of the roller coaster the writer’s been on, and they hack and slash with their red pen, trying to destroy what the writer worked so long to create. Not only is it infuriating for the writer, it plants the seed of doubt -- after all that, was the passage really crap after all?
From the editor’s perspective:
An editor spends his or her entire life fixing errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The higher level editors spend their lives trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear -- that is to say, taking a batch of copy and doing whatever it takes to give it a logical flow and construction and make it shine. And then invariably the writer steps in and says, “No, we can’t change that. Keep it as it is.” So now, in the middle of a carefully edited and polished piece, is a clunky sentence that stands out like a cockroach on a wedding cake. And who’s going to take the blame when the readership starts stumbling over it? Not the writer, no. They’re infallible. The only question that will be asked is “Why didn’t the editor catch this?”
That’s why trust is so important between the writer and the editor. If they can work together, have a little give and take on what’s really important, what works, and what doesn’t, then everybody wins. Generally speaking, writers aren’t out to vilify editors and editors aren’t out to ruin a writer’s writing. Everyone just wants the best final piece possible. And once trust is established, that’s what everyone gets.
By Steve Boudreault
So at my rehearsal dinner this past Friday, there was a typo on a sign at the bar. Instead of reading “CASH BAR” it read “CHAS BAR.”
Within 30 seconds of my arrival, someone asked me, “Did you see the typo yet?” First of all, really? Did I see the typo? It might as well have been in 60-foot neon letters. It’s part of my life’s calling to see the typo. So yes, I saw the typo.
A few minutes later: “Hey, did you see the typo?”
Yes, I saw the typo.
“Oh my God, there’s a typo on the sign. Did you see the typo?”
Yes. I saw the typo.
“You’re not going to believe this. Did you read that sign yet? There’s a typo. Did you see it?”
Yes. I. Saw. The. Typo.
This is the double-edged sword of being the typo guy (or gal). Once anyone who knows you spots a typo, they immediately want to bring it to your attention. Still, the mere presence of a typo guy (or gal) makes everyone more keenly aware of typos, which can only be a good thing for everyone.
So once I had assured everyone I had seen the typo, speculation began to run rampant that it was done on purpose, that somehow the restaurant had found out that I was the typo guy and slipped it in as a gag. If so, wow, brilliantly played. No one’s ever thought of slipping in an intentional typo knowing the typo guy (or gal) would see it. Not on birthday cards, not in e-mails, never. Good show.
If not … hey, there’s a typo on your sign. Did you see it?
By Steve Boudreault
I was having difficulty deciding what to blog about this week. I knew I’d be inspired, it was just a matter of waiting for that inspiration to come. And it came yesterday afternoon on the train.
A group of teenagers, two girls and two boys, boarded the train and sat a few rows behind me. They had been chatting as they made their way to their seats, but the first thing I heard clearly once they sat was, “Oh, fuck that shit.”
Oh, fuck that shit. Beautiful, isn't it? The eternally poetic majesty of the English language. For those of you not well-versed in casual cursing, the rough translation is “Strongly disregard that item or concept.”
The quartet cursed like that for the entire train ride. Fuck this shit and fuck that shit. And don’t forget to fuck that other shit. This person’s a fucking dick and that person’s a fucking bitch. On and on and on.
I’m personally not offended by cursing. But to me it’s such a verbal crutch, such a sign of laziness and lack of creativity. And because there are so few real, genuine curse words, it’s also incredibly pedestrian. The English language is such a repository of amazing words and phrases that to limit yourself to just a few words like that is almost criminal.
Cursing is, and probably always will be, a part of our language. But it doesn’t have to be associated with stupidity or ignorance. If you're going to curse, just use a little fucking creativity. That’s the shit.
By Steve Boudreault
It’s hard to get exact numbers because it’s counting up like the population clock, but most sources agree there are hundreds of millions of blogs on the Internet right now. Isn’t that extraordinary? Hundreds of millions of blogs! It’s also difficult to get exact numbers on how many of them are worth reading, but it’s probably in the realm of half a dozen. Maybe less.
Here’s the thing about blogs -- unless you’re using them properly, they’re serving no purpose other than taking up space on the web, acting as an online diary, or amusing an handful of friends and family. This is known in the business as “blogging for show.” Now, if that’s what you’re looking to do -- though it’s hard to imagine why you’d just want to take up space on the Internet -- then more power to you. But if you want your blog to make you some money, bring in new business, or establish you as a thought leader, you’ve gotta take the next step.
And what’s the next step? Well, it’s painful for most, but your blog has to be about something. If it’s going to be about how hard your homework is, so be it, at least it’s about something. But that’s not going to get you anywhere. It has to be about something that other people are going to care about.
And how do you find out what other people care about? By reading other blogs, of course. Find out what people are reading about, what they’re passionate about, what gets them riled up, and then dive right in.
But the point we’re always harping on at Solidus is that content is king. If you’re going to write a blog, aside from all the other considerations, the content has to be well-written, it has to be relevant, and overall, it’s got to be good. These points all seem self-evident, but so many blogs (and websites, for that matter) lose sight of the importance of good content so fast that we end up with a glut of bad blogs that no one reads. But look at that as an opportunity -- in a sea of mediocrity, your blog can be a shining beacon. Just do everything to make sure that it is.
By Steve Boudreault