Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Revenge of Lulu

After blogging about how luluing your book is an invitation for grammar and spelling errors, I managed to post an entry with two glaring spelling mistakes. Let that be a lesson.

Poor proof-reading skills are something that have plagued me all my life, which is strange considering both my vocation and avocation demand I communicate effectively and accurately in writing. It hasn't always been easy.

As a young man, my writing habit led to a number of unfortunate forays into self-produced pamphlets and magazines, all of them comically replete with errors.

Then I started a printing service as a side business to help fund my deepening writing addiction. Even now I can't explain what caused me to think I might be good at this. One of my biggest accounts was a local restaurant owner who asked me to produce his menu. I set all the type (and, to be fair to myself, had the customer approve it) and the next thing I knew I received an anonymous letter containing nothing but the printed menu with all of the errors (rest assured, there were many) circled in red. I closed the printing business down shortly after out of terminal embarrassment.

By this time, computers were arriving on the scene. I couldn't get one soon enough. Not only did they make it easier to correct errors, they also opened the way for spelling checkers. My first one was a separate program that had to be run after the article was complete. The program would go through all the words in the piece and print out a list--in alphabetical order--of all the words its internal dictionary did not recognize. Then it was up to me to go through the document, find the words and fix them. It cost me $50; I thought it was brilliant.

Spelling checkers have improved vastly since that time, but my proof reading ability has, sadly, not. This, coupled with the richness of the English language, has lead two awl sorts of interesting linguistical mishaps. Sentences lick tees our jest a simple of the may ham eye am cape elbow of.

The upshot is, I just know when The Book arrives in its finished form and I pick it up in excited glee, the very first page it opens to will reveal a glaring, horrific error.

And there won't be a thing I can dew abut tit.


  1. Very good! Amusing blog.

    I still write programme which shows what a dinasaur I am. Plus why this country ever allowed center to be written large as life on builders yards etc is beyond me.
    The word's centre for goodness sake.
    Sadly this country is barely literate nowadays.

  2. Bloody hell, I'm losing it. I know, I know, dinosaur!!!


  3. mike, sorry if I was one of the pathological proof-readers but, for what it is worth, I still drop the occasional bollock, myself. Like you say, we just don't always take the time. And, yep, I did catch 'dew'. ;-)

  4. Ken, although I still cling to my Amercian English, I don't like seeing it used by the general public. What's the point of being your own country if you act as if you're living in someone else's?

    Billy, not a problem. When you produce as many errors as I do, you count on people pointing them out.

  5. Mike, what a great post. I agree with Grumpy Old Ken and Stinking Billy and you! I try my very best to avoid spelling and punctuation mistakes but when it happens it bugs the hell out of me.

    I had an old fashioned and brilliant English Language teacher and she dedicated a whole lesson to the class (but basically to me!)about how to write paragraphs properly. She was dumbfounded at the end of the class when I had handed in my homework (written prior to the lesson) when it was written as per her paragraph lesson. That's me though, flippin' inconsistent!!!

    And yes, I'm slowly turning into Lynne Truss (minus her income levels sadly)...

  6. second para. second "when" should be "as" (or is that ass?!)

  7. Very good. You caught the writing thing very well. One thing puzzles me. When does one become a 'writer'?
    When one makes money? When one writes for money? When one writes anything at all and keeps what is written? I'd love to call myself a writer but somehow never do. Perhaps we call ourselves writers only to ourselves or perhaps only to people of like mind.

  8. Ken,
    It's simple: writers write. If you dabble in watercolors, even as a neophyte, you're a painter. If you jog on a regular basis, you're a runner, if you write, you're a writer.

  9. btippins8:47 pm

    mike, can I take it that you have never attempted a 'story' book, either a novel, mystery or adventure, piece of pure fiction?

    I am only curious because, while I have stated quite truthfully that I am too old and lazy and couldn't be arsed, it is equally true that I don't have the imagination, anyway. I accept, of course, that not all writers have to be be able to write fiction, but I am just wondering where you stand on that one? Do you have any ambition in that direction?

  10. btippins, actually, fiction is what I do. My main ambition in life is to publish a novel. I have come close, but so far no brass ring. Writing humor is something I just fell into, and becoming the author of a published humor book is quite a surprise to me.