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A three-way mirror doesn’t catch all my faces

our cat bella logoNow that I have the time to follow my inclination, I have noticed that I am a writer, certainly, and so much more.

Take my publishing efforts. Please!

don speaking logoAt BaldyBooks, I am the one author on the list, and …

… editor …

… publisher …

… proofreader …

… copy editor …

… company blogger …

… webmaster …

… hardware guy …

… software guy …

… graphic designer …

… cartoonist …

… chief photographer …

… print-on-demand (POD) expert …

… legal eagle …

… PR department …

and something else I cannot recall.

Oh, yeah … guerrilla marketer.

I even do Windows. And Word.

Despite my expertise in these many aspects of writing and publishing, I choose to write about grammar and usage.

Why?

Because of this:

Bad writing makes good readers angry.

If you don’t know what an air horn sounds like, you may not know that you are about to stop a truck.

The hard way.

If your writing sucks, and you don’t even suspect that there might be a few small problems, you will not suffer much, especially when compared to your readers, who may want to throw you under the nearest bus or truck.

Bad writing does make good readers angry.

This is a caution for the rest of us, who know just how typo-littered, usage-poor, and grammar-thin our writing can be.

So what must you do?

▪ ▪ ▪

If you can afford to pay my mid-range rate — current freelance editing rates range from twenty-five dollars to seventy-five dollars per hour — I will fix what can be fixed and will tell you something about how to fix the rest. Your vocation will become a hole the size of a scream where all your money goes. Your significant other will cry STOP!!! Even a light edit of your manuscript is going to cost you several hundred dollars.

Well, a few of you might say, who cares about a few typos? What’s the huge deal, then? Sure, it is regrettable and avoidable, but my story is the thing, not my spell-checking! Don’t be so anal!! I’m trying as hard as I can to drive the bus and here you want to stop in a bad neighborhood and talk about mechanics. Get off and get a life!!!

And I say, Fair enough.

I acknowledge my own fears of offering readers work that still needs a lot of work. Even if I had a book advance the size of an adjoining Zip Code, I still would want to deliver writing worthy of readers to the publishing machine waiting to print and publish my book.

That means fixing typos, which is harder than it should be.

That means slowing down my rush to be in print if I can see that yet another reading and editing of my manuscript is not only necessary, but also obviously necessary, and would be obvious to anyone who can scan See Spot Run and know that the topic is jogging.

That means finding someone who is willing to help either for free, or for atta-boys and -girls and a hearty handshake, or some mix of cash and barter of goods and services, plus making use of some tricks that I have learned along the way.

No matter what path I choose, I must admit that I am in recovery when it comes to clean copy and that I will never be free of this affliction. I err with every stroke I make. I err when I edit, making wrong choices and introducing typos.

I am my own worst enemy. I bear constant watching.

A writer can have skill as a storyteller but lack the gift of expression. If I cannot use words as the words, and people, expect, no one will understand me. So it is that I choose, among all the weeds in the publishing patch to go after the weeds that cannot be avoided but that can be spotted and pulled if they sprout under my nose.

Problems with grammar and usage are weeds of this sort.

The good news?

By reading and thinking about usage and grammar you can learn almost all there is to know about grammar and usage. The rest of writing is mysterious and elusive. I cannot make you a writer, but I can teach you the parts that are teachable.

If you choose to be teachable, too.

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