Giving Thanks — Adrienne Style
Just eight days from now, many of us will be sitting down to a dinner featuring turkey and all the trimmings, and giving thanks to all we have. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that most people are thankful for things like their family, health and professional success — I certainly fall in that group — but I thought I’d go a different way in compiling my “I’m thankful for” list, keeping it focused on writing and editing. Hope you enjoy — gobble, gobble!
This year, I’m thankful for:
Poor writers. Without you, I might not have a business. If you begin a conversation with me by saying, “I’m a horrible writer,” you’ll bring a smile to my face — because I’ll make sure no one realizes that, and I know you’ll really appreciate my support.
Online grammar checkers. You might think someone in my line of work would be threatened by their existence, but I don’t see them as competition. Since their recommendations are often incorrect, I think they cause more angst than relief. There’s no substitute for a human brain when it comes to wordsmithing.
The complexity of the English language. If all the nuances of our language were gone — oddball but correct spellings, head-scratching grammar rules, puzzling punctuation, etc. — I might be out of a job.
Contractions. I love them. You’re rather than you are. I’m rather than I am. Can’t rather than cannot. Contractions help shorten copy and give it a more conversational flow.
Reading by any means. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was kid — reading more than any of my first grade classmates as noted by little construction paper books pasted next to our names — and I still prefer reading the old-fashioned way, with a book in my hands. But, I appreciate the alternatives available for those who want to read, but don’t want to turn pages, like eReaders and audiobooks. (I even own a Kindle.) Remember, good writers are usually big readers.
Fellow error-spotters. Regardless of what I’m looking at — a menu, billboard, magazine, etc. — I always see the mistakes — misspelled words, improper grammar, whatever. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone; many of you have “eagle-eyes,” too, and share my aggravation.
Up Your Phrase IQ
I recently came across a list titled “70 Words and Phrases You’re Probably Using All Wrong.” Expect to see some of them in upcoming issues. One that’s not on it is beckon call, which I’ve seen misused several times. The correct phrase is beck and call, i.e., I’m at Cubbie’s beck and call. (That means I respond immediately when he beckons or calls — something fellow dog owners probably get.)
How Well Do You Know Me?
I was delighted to be informed by SD/PEN, an organization for San Diego-area editors, that I was chosen to be featured in its Member-of-the-Month Profile for November. The president seemed a bit stunned when I returned my questionnaire about 15 minutes after he sent it — the fastest response ever, he said — but I figured it was better to reply immediately than add another item to my to-do list. Check it out if you want to learn a little more about me, or about the group.