Saturday, February 1, 2014

Extraction, editing, scaling . . .choose your least favourite


I'll go out on a limb and state that I don't think many writers enjoy editing.  I know I don't.   The writing process itself can be frustrating and exhilarating in turn but editing, especially line by line editing for spelling, grammar and typographical errors, is tedious.   Some writers, perhaps many writers, contract this work out at a by the word price.    I'll have to think about that.

With a couple of university degrees I like to think that I wouldn't leave many errors in the final product.  I probably don't make many, however that is defined but I definitely make some, despite my good intentions.  I think it is related to the finding that while we like the idea of making ourselves more efficient, the reality is that humans are not designed for multi-tasking.    This article explains why.   When I embark on one of several line edits--a word by word review for spelling and grammar--I start out with good intentions. I define that in this situation as ignoring the characters and plot.   What happens inevitably is that I get caught up in the story and before long I am multi-tasking, with all the inefficiencies that involves.    

Along with a dozen or more others, I recently volunteered to read and edit a second edition of a book designed for expats to a certain tropical country.   The author has a blog that I follow sporadically.   A modest incentive was the opportunity to read the book for free and get information on a potential destination for a future fantasy life.   As it was over the Christmas holidays, I have to confess that I proceeded at a brisk pace through the book.   Since I found almost a hundred typos and spelling mistakes and made a couple of suggestions about the organization of the text, I felt content with my contribution.     However, it seems that other editors found some, even many, errors that I had missed, according to a blog post by the writer.

But our brains do have a way to compensate.   Have a look at the passage below and see if you can decipher it's meaning.   Was it very difficult?    But . . . I wouldn't want to have to read an entire book like this.    

The paomnnehal pweor of the human mind.  Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in what order the ltteers in a word are, the olny iprmoatnt thing is that the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it wouthit porbelm.  This is bcuseae the huamn mind deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe.

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