If you don’t know McSweeney’s, you should, especially if you have a drier sense of humor.
A friend passed this hilarious article along to me last week.
Did you know you can edit your novel using math?
According to McSweeney’s, you absolutely can. Here’s several of examples:
So I guess Sinead O’ Connor recently wrote Miley Cyrus a letter about not prostituting herself to the music industry. Or something like that.
In response, singer/songwriter/independent hipster Sufjan Stevens got in on the fun, writing Miley a letter about some grammar issues in one of her new songs called “Get It Right.”
Outside of ghostwriting, copyediting has to be one of the most thankless jobs in the writing and publishing industries.
I’ve worked briefly as an editor in the past, and I’ve worked with copyeditors my entire career, and those guys and girls rarely get any love.
To me, copyeditors are the last line of defense.
They’re like the dudes at the top of the castle who swat back all the grunts climbing ladders. Throw that comma splice to the ground! Slice the neck off that split infinitive! Cut the ear off that run on sentence!
Writers, we kinda, sorta get grammar. We know enough about it to get by and fake our way through an article. But the editors are the ones who really get it. They’re not just parroting what their high school English teacher said—they actually know why she said it.
About halfway into reading All The King’s Men, I realized my copy of the book is the “restored” edition.
I noticed this because, in all the other reviews about the book and the movie, the main character is referenced as Willie Stark. In my copy, the character goes by the name of Willie Talos.
When I first noticed this, I thought maybe the character undergoes some kind of name change or something within the context of the story. But, then, I noticed in LARGE letters on the front of the book: RESTORED EDITION.
Basically, the publisher, Houghton Mifflin, decided to overwrite a lot of the changes Robert Penn Warren’s editors made—of which RPW was supposedly not crazy about—and revert the text back to the earlier draft. All of this is explained in the book’s afterword.
One of the main sources of contention between RPW and his editors had to do with the main character’s name. Here’s the letter that one of Warren’s editors sent to him during the process of revisions.
What you’re looking at below is President Obama’s marks on a draft of his inauguration speech written by, presumably, his speechwriter.
A couple of thoughts on this image: It’s a hard copy. I can’t remember the last time I edited on paper or received edits on paper. The track changes feature on Word is my best friend. Also, look at how neat these edits are. I can’t write on a clean sheet of paper that neatly, much less in the narrow margins of a written document.
Finally, if the president’s speechwriter gets edited–and, in turn, the president himself gets edited on his own edits–then we can safely assume that no one is above the need for editing. If you’re a writer, you better have someone edit your work. Period.
What did Vladimir Nabokov think about editors and the editing process?
Here’s what he had to say in a 1967 interview with The Paris Review:
It’s been awhile since we talked David Foster Wallace on the blog, and I kind of miss it.
So, even though I’ve long since finished with Infinite Jest, I thought I’d revisit Mr. DFW today and take a look at an entertaining letter he wrote to an editor at Harper’s Magazine. His letter is in reference to an essay he wrote for Harper’s about Franz Kafka.
Remember the grammar quiz that DFW gave to his college students? He’s a grammar nazi if I’ve ever seen one, but DFW also proves that you have to know the rules to break the rules. And you also need to be able to explain your reasoning to your more-than-likely Grammar Nazi editor.