Daddy Don’t Do Proofing

Ever write something, feel really good about it, post it, then after a few days go back and read the article only to discover a glaring typo that stops the flow dead in its tracks? You have? Do what I do!


It seems like no matter how many times I re-read something before posting, no matter how heavily I lean on spellchecking or Grammarly, no matter how hard I shake the voodoo bones, I always miss something.

Perhaps I am not using the right bones.

Pictured: My Ideal Editor

I have thought about seeking out an editor before. Perhaps someone with their hair in a tight bun, with a sour look in their glasses-protected eyes. I am imagining her wielding a red Paper Mate felt-tipped pen with barely-contained fury striking typo after grammar mistake after confused metaphor with an efficient slash!

“God DAMN you and your comma splices!”

Then, fury spent, she would tell me I am an “okay” writer and hand me the results.

So this:

Jan turned around the corner, looking for Michael. The hallway was grim; dark and shadow-beaten, white walls faded to dusty ecru. The kitchen at the far end of the hall was gray and seemed distant like a dream. A sole pillar of sunlight stabbed into the shadows from Katie’s bedroom on the left side of the hallway, dots of dust moving like a starfield. Jan heard a preternatural nothing – a silence that felt silent on purpose. It was like a held breath before a plunge. She could have sworn she heard Michael, but the corridor she faced whispered that she was alone – and would always be.

Is transformed caterpillar-into-flutterby-like into this:

Jan turned the corner. There wasn’t anyone there.

A marked improvement!

Since I cannot afford an editor of my own, I have no recourse but to rely on my own non-discerning eye. This means “catch-as-catch can” editing.

The problem is when you read the same paragraph over and over again, your eyes glaze over and you enter a hypnotic state. This is why writing and editing are solitary pursuits. Given a long enough paragraph, you could have me clucking like a chicken before long. No one should have that much power over another person without a lengthy contract and a large number of business handshakes.

This means that the difference between “our” and “out” becomes meaningless. It’s like saying one word over and over again until it loses meaning. And it’s okay. I have to accept that this is okay. And sometimes it’s okay to think you’re a chicken.

On the other hand, I will chew off my own fingers if I mistake “your” and “you’re.” Seriously, people! Contractions aren’t just for pregnant women!

Anyway, I have to accept that my internal editor is going to mess up from time to time. I am going to miss the occasional “out.” My internal editor is busy anyway – she has to wrangle grammar, spelling, style, metaphor, imagery, plot, and structure, while all the while shaking bones and chanting.


Pictured: My Internal Editor