The year was probably 1994 or 1995. I’d been out of journalism school and writing professionally (for pay) for a few years. An outstanding boss/writing mentor had taught me even more than my professors about using active verbs, writing tight, and eliminating errors. I was no longer “just” a writer. I was an editor. A good one.
This skill would be a valuable asset.
Or so I thought. Until that Sunday morning when I grabbed the Trib and a red pen and settled in at the dining room table to edit the newspaper.
Yes, I sat down in my spare time to edit the Chicago Tribune.
I used to read the paper. In fact, I used to read everything. Books, magazines, posters, pamphlets, manuals. But now I was obsessed, and reading for pleasure was not an option. As my editing and proofreading abilities grew stronger, my tolerance for errors weakened. Typos infuriated me. Run-on sentences made me itch. Lapses in parallel structure gave me facial tics.
About this time, I gave up the Book of the Month Club and joined BMG Music, so my mailbox filled with CDs rather than books. If those songwriters misspelled words, at least I couldn’t hear their errors.
In the past few years, I’ve been working to recover my passion for reading. Self-publishing and blogging give us the opportunity to read the writing of so many creative, thinking people …
… many of whom could use a good editor. But that doesn’t mean I can’t benefit from their ideas. If only I could ignore the errors.
Along comes today’s make something prompt: build a pair of glasses. They’re not pretty, but perhaps these spectacles will begin to address my problem. Here’s the recipe:
- A giant pair of pink glasses, large enough to filter all the text and rosy enough to keep my view positive
- A pot scrubber, to scour the language before it passes through my lenses
- A couple of red pens to flag errors and suggest helpful revisions
- An eraser to eliminate unnecessary phrases
- A wine cork … because I might need a little something to relax into the words
What do you think? Should I pursue a patent?