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December 17, 2012 / Brittany Hendrick

All right! Fine! I’ll go with you to Candy Mountain!

Wait, what year is it? I wouldn’t know because I haven’t written anything on here since 2006, it seems.

Well, when you write in WordPress all day for a “living” (if you could call it that), the last thing you’d want to do in your free time is — you guessed it — write in WordPress!

However, as of three weeks ago, I am not writing anymore and am strictly “editing” (if you could call it that). It ain’t exactly medical journals, but I do a fair amount of re-arranging text, deleting superfluous anythings, kicking out commas that splice and giving periods a home, and attempting to extract something comprehensible out of ESOL-like “writing” (if you could call it that). I have excellent writers whom I appreciate, but there are some doozies floating around out there.

I don’t claim to be the perfect grammarian. In fact, even though I made “A”s in English classes, I can’t tell you much of anything about grammar at this point in my life, especially regarding how I arrive at the correct usage/structure, or why–I just know what feels right.

Commas are pernicious little clefs that can dictate the semantics of a sentence. At times, I am unsure on whether to include a comma or not (usually when it involves general proper placement rather than meaning of a sentence). But I DO know how to avoid committing comma splices. The feeling of a comma splice while writing never even occurs–it’s not like, “Whoops! Comma splice! Better go back and fix that…”

So, if you cannot grasp the basic tenets of the English language, do you have license to call yourself a freelance writer? How can a freelance writer not feel a comma splice??? Or are spelling and grammar not the writer’s problem but the proofreader’s and editor’s instead? A writer can throw shit out there, knowing someone is there to clean up the mess?

To criticize truthfully and purposefully is to “discourage” and “judge” people. No, it means that you do not have a gift (Yet. Maybe.) and need some training and practice. Yet very few people want to engage in the work that is required to excel. Ask me about hard work: I’ve had three unpaid internships in my lifetime.

But everyone is entitled. Everyone is a winner. Anyone is good at everything. Outside academia, there is no one to tell you YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG–especially if your audience is on the Internet, and especially if your boss is more clueless than you are.

And from what I’ve seen churned out by four-year universities in recent years, I’m not so sure academia is instructing students well enough. Graduates are bereft of critical thinking skills; work ethic, protocol and SOP; and guidance to communicate like adults rather than whiny teenagers (p.s. my brain has a fundamental inability to follow people who overuse the word “like” in their speech pattern). Oh, right–anyone can get a college degree, too. Viva America!

A few months ago, I came across an intensive two-day copyediting class offered through Emory University’s Continuing Education program. I recognized this as an opportunity to enrich and refresh my existing skills, and also to give me greater authority on what I do for a “living”. Moreover, my idea was to teach co-workers what I learned in the class–because editing is what we DO, so we need to do it CORRECTLY and PROFESSIONALLY so that our clients receive the best product. I presented my argument to, um, the person, uh, in charge (?) of such matters.

Not surprisingly, my request was denied.

“If we send you, we have to send everyone,” was the bullshit excuse given to me. Subtext: we don’t want you to have neither authority on a subject that excludes us nor accreditation on your resume. Oooh, right–sorry, I forgot–everyone has to be a winner. It just wouldn’t be “fair” if I sat in a classroom for 16 hours and took notes, giving me an edge over others in my position. After all, people’s feelings might get hurt! And in a roomful of winners, we can’t have one person do something more winning than the rest–because that imbalance would then create a roomful of losers–and we ALL have to be winners (or losers, depending on who’s looking at us), the same!

But not everyone I work with cares enough to attend 16 hours’ worth of editing classes. Not everyone has the fortitude, interest or drive for that. I do. And I know for a fact not everyone has their editing bar set as high as mine… maybe because they don’t care, or maybe because they don’t know! That’s why I’d relate a watered-down, hour-long version to my co-workers–just the stuff that would matter to their job. Who else is going to fucking do it?!?!

… … … …

It takes every ounce of my being not to tell some of these freelancers, “You know what? You’re not a writer. Even after I have coached you, you’re still not getting it. You don’t have it. You should find something else to do… because you’re wasting my–as well as your–time and energy.”

It takes so much out of me, I want to say “fuck it!” and not write anymore. If any Tom, Dick and Harry can do it then what makes me so special? We shouldn’t be on a level literary playing field… but we are! In an ironic twist, I am the one who is left discouraged, while fucking… freelance writers with a sixth-grade proficiency flourish without a need or desire to be better.

Finally, this brings me to why I am writing now: a series of dynamic shifts happens to be, uh, happening at around the same time.

1.) Since my job duties now involve editing only, I planned on easing back into writing… despite my compulsion to squash the Internet with one big, fat, red Bingo blotter.

2.) The anticipation of being laid up for a few days soon (nose surgery) also qualifies as an impetus. I’ve never had nose surgery. I know recovery will suck… so I can’t say yet if I’ll feel like writing or if I would rather be zonked out on drugs because I’d be too afraid to fall asleep naturally, nose packed, insufficiently mouth breathing, and then dying.

3.) As soon as my cell phone is back in working order, Facebook is going bye-bye. That’ll be another blog post in itself. But for now I’ll say that Facebook is not fun anymore. I never spent that much time on it (poking people since 2004, yo), but now I don’t even log on unless I’m notified about something. I’ve found that I’m much happier without Facebook pervading my daily life… just like my life used to be. I liked that life better. In that life, I read more books, wrote more stories and poems, and was able to live on my terms, unprejudiced, privately.

4.) I have had THREE people in two months subscribe to my blog (don’t get too excited–it brings the count to a whopping five). This is after AGES of inactivity on my part–and seemingly without any activity on the horizon anytime soon! Yet people want to read something–from me! They want to be the first to know! I am flattered and astounded at people’s interest.

Not that I have an attitude of “I’ll only write if I have an audience.” I certainly didn’t begin a blog under the pretense of gathering a following. Besides, thanks to Google (and Cristiano Ronaldo), the audience comes to me. The most compelling example, Stuff white people don’t like: white people, though faring well on its own since publication in 2009, received hundreds upon hundreds of hits during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, topping out at 1,185 in one day. Those were one-time visitors who had no vested interest in what I have to say. Still, an audience, albeit accidental and temporal.

If I really wanted to corral people for the sake of inflating my ego and justifying my online existence, I’d SEO my blog properly, as I know how to do that shit really well. But I don’t bother, because it’s not about that for me.

But to a dedicated audience that I know is out there–even in times of inactivity–it is only right that I fulfill a duty to deliver what people signed up for… and a duty to myself to continue writing.

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Danielle / Dec 17 2012 10:36 am

    I subscribed.

    Like

    • Brittany Hendrick / Dec 17 2012 2:19 pm

      Yay! 😉

      Like

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