Friday, January 22, 2021

Correcting the Errors...

 By Abir

Who wins when you and your copy editor or proofreader disagree about a word, a spelling, a term of slang, etc? Do you sometimes choose to lose a battle in order to win a larger war?

Friday again eh? Welcome to the end of the week.

This week's question is an interesting one: Who wins the war over edits between me and the copy-editor? 

Like Brenda, who answered this question earlier this week, my answer is simple: It's not a war,  it's a collaboration. When I started out writing, I took the view that I was a novice working with a bunch of professionals. Therefore it was beholden upon me to take their advice unless I had a damn good reason not to. They, after all, had decades of experience in their roles, while I was just a re-sprayed accountant.

Even now, five books in, I'd say I still take on 95% of the edits and suggestions made by copy-editors and others. The exceptions tend to be in areas where I think I have specific experience - generally issues of Indian culture and certain turns of phrases used in Indian English. 

As for grammar and punctuation - seriously - I'm not going to die in a ditch over a semi-colon (especially as I'm still a bit foggy over what the hell they're for). I mean; life's too short for that.

Talking of short. I'm pretty much done here, but I realise I'm not going to get away with only writing four paragraphs for this week's blog. My fellow writers would run me out of town assuming we were allowed out of lockdown. So let me take a leaf out of Dietrich's book and tell you something that's inspired me this week.

Again it's a poem, and again it's related to the peaceful transfer of power which thankfully occurred earlier this week in the USA. I watched most of the inauguration: was wowed by Michelle Obama's jump suit; by Lady Gaga's brooch; and even tried ordering Bernie Sanders' mitten online. But the person who stood out for me was the 22 year old poet, Amanda Gorman who recited her poem entitled 'The Hill We Climb'.

For those of you who haven't seen it, I'd recommend watching the whole thing (see below), but for me, the key passage was this:

"We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, 

 would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy,"

I found that those two simple lines helped to make sense, helped to put into words, the feeling I have had, and I expect many others have had too, when faced with those who've shouted in our faces:

"This is MY country, not yours."

The impotence I've felt on being on the receiving end of those words; the inability I've had to understand it. Suddenly, in those two lines, Ms Gorman gave vent not only to my frustrations, my anger, but also helped me understand the rationale behind why these people say it.

Those people, two weeks ago, who stormed the Capitol in Washington shouting "This is OUR country. This is OUR house" were scared, angry at the way their world is changing. Angry that the privileges they considered their birthright, were being eroded. They would rather shatter their country, than share those privileges equally with those of us, despite being equal citizens of our respective nations, who've never had it. 

Ms. Gorman issued a rallying cry for unity and perseverance, one that didn't gloss over what happened a fortnight ago, but one which might show us a way forward. Let us hope we can correct the errors together.

PS: In case you missed it, I and my podcast partner, Vaseem Khan, interviewed our very own Criminal Minds legend, Frank Zafiro on our Red Hot Chilli Writers Podcast earlier this week. You can listen here: Red Hot Chilli Writers

1 comment:

  1. Terrific post, Abir - everyone I know was moved by Amanda's eloquent poem that really encapsulated so many feelings that many of us have experienced this past four years. We're so hopeful that the U.S. and all countries will follow the new president's lead in championing generosity, respect and dignity for all people.


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