Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wednesday's Words for May 14, 2008

I just know I’m going to get myself in trouble for this one. Once again, nothing ventured—nothing blown.

I have a personal hot-button issue with regard to the Queen’s English. Now, yes, it’s perfectly fine that there are different versions of the language between our two countries, and when I write my Wednesday’s Words, as with my manuscripts, I more often than not use U.S. English.
But only a handful of words are spelled differently and the rules of grammar are not that dissimilar. It’s not different versions of English that I’m referencing here.

Being an author, I consider words to be my tools; not unlike the way that a carpenter has hammers and saws as his tools, or a blacksmith the anvil, or a plumber the pipe wrench. Words are mine and if you’re a writer, words are yours, too.

And it galls me and pains me when I read excerpts and promotional posts that are full of misspelled words and horrific grammar.

I absolutely shudder when I see the words “unedited excerpt”.

I have to tell you truly, that if I read an excerpt or a promo that slaughters language, that throws our tools around as if they were so many discarded orange peels, I stop reading.

And I will never buy that author’s work.

We all make the occasional spelling error. I know I do, and I kick myself when it happens. That isn’t what I’m talking about. You know what I’m talking about because you’ve all seen them: posts that are not only choppier than Lake Michigan in a thunderstorm to read, but riddled with misspelled words, sloppy grammar and the wrong words.

Wrong words you ask? Indeed. Here are a few examples from just this last week: made for maid; to for too; your for you’re; buy for bye. Perhaps those are understandable. But I’ve also encountered threw for through and thought for though.

Every time I post something in a loop, be it an excerpt, a promotional spot, or these humble words, I strive for clarity, for poetry, and for excellence. Because words are my tools, and I take pride in my ability to use them, I am careful with how I handle them. I strive to write the best stories I can, and the best essays I can, because I am an author and that is what authors are supposed to do.

When I read someone else’s posts that are riddled with errors, I know they’re either ignorant of the correct way to write, or careless in the way they do so. In either case, I don’t want to plunk down cold hard cash to purchase any more of their words. In this instance, the sample really is ample.

Right about now, some of you may be wondering why I let myself get so worked up over this. The answer is quite simple: reputation.

As long as the loops are riddled with authors who are careless with their craft, as long as e-publishing is littered with releases that are sloppily edited or not edited at all, we all pay the price. Readers unfamiliar with the varied and talented offerings by serious authors who’ve been e-published read the slap-dash efforts of these careless sods and judge the rest of us accordingly, sight unseen.

Aside from irritating me, this persistent sloppiness (laziness?) baffles me. Why would anyone who is hoping to sell something they have written not want to take care to make it the best it can be? Why would anyone want to drag down an entire medium, when lifting it up would pay them back a hundred fold?

Someone suggested to me that the real problem is that these ‘authors’ aren’t serious crafts-people at all; they’re merely the Internet’s version of the Carpetbagger.

If that’s the case, I wish they’d all just pack their bags and go home.



Lara Santiago said...

I don't imagine the idea of getting into trouble will ever stop you from writing whatever you want to on Wednesdays.
At least I hope not. :)

In response to your topic this week...Amen, sister. :)
The words "unedited excerpt" also make me cringe and back away slowly.

Jenny Penn said...

Hey Morgan,

I'm curious about something. What do you mean by Carpetbagger? As southerner (US), Carpetbaggers were northerner's who moved into the south after the Civil War. Obviously, that is not what you are referring to. So, what is your reference?


Savanna Kougar said...

I can only hope my unedited WIP excerpts, the few I've ever posted, weren't poor quality writing. If so, I apologize to everyone.
And, yes, I too have cringed. I won't lie about that. You make a very good point about maintaining professional standards because, yes, there will be those who won't care about making a distinction between top quality e-publishing and small print publishers -- between the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful out there.
I will say, I have seen complaints from readers that the NY publishers have been careless in their editing also. This isn't offered as an excuse, but more as a recommendation that we all take care to offer readers our best.

Morgan Ashbury said...

Actaully, Jenny, I was refering to the Northerns who came down to the South post civil war and tried to make a quick buck any way they could. I'll be the first to admit that was an odd image, but I'm known for my odd images. Ask anyone.