Friday, April 14, 2006

Ah, the Joys of Being Edited

James and I have some great help at O’Reilly for our upcoming book.  We’ve just gotten our first two submitted chapters back with comments and edits, and I’m finding just how much grammar I’ve forgotten or never really knew in the first place.  I am, after all, a product of Jerry Brown’s California educational system — which is to say at the start of sixth grade my parents pulled me out of public school and sent me to a Catholic school where I repeated fifth grade because I could barely read or write.

Things have improved over the years, and I’m a pretty good writer now — but I’m completely clueless about most grammar beyond nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and conjunctions.  (“Conjunction junction, what’s your function? Hooking up verbs and phrases and clauses.”  Go back and rewatch your Schoolhouse Rock if you don’t know that one.) 

My success in the large amounts of writing I’ve done in my career has been due to a voracious reading habit I developed after getting the crap knocked out of me a few times in the Catholic school.  I write well because I’ve read a lot and remembered a lot of things I liked.

So now I’m at the place in life where I’m having to pull out and REALLY read the Chicago Manual of Style so that I’m able to moderately understand what my editors are telling me when they’re recommending a gerund style of heading versus an imperative one.

Oi vey.  My head hurts.

At least I haven’t been told my participles are dangling.  Yet.  Anyways, that usually only happens when I’m wearing my kilt in traditional fashion.

3 comments:

Haacked said...

Too much information on that last one.

;)

Ben Carey said...

I just picked up a copy of The Elements of Style and it's an absolutely great book. I've got a lot to learn.

English was always my last class of the day and that was usually about the time I skipped out of school to go skating.

Jim Holmes said...

Sorry about the details, Phil. Nobody should have to picture an overweight, middle-aged guy running around in a kilt with dangling... Sorry, there I go again.

Ben, I've never read Elements of Style but have always heard good things about it. James had good things to say about it too. I'm gonna grab it from the library!

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