Friday, November 16, 2007


I read a lot. Growing up, we all read a lot: me, my two brothers, mom and dad, sharing books with one another, heading to the library every weekend and coming home with armloads of books. My brothers and I would devour our books, spending unmeasured hours with our noses buried in a story, lost in other lands and advenures: the Little Women series, Call of the Wild, Nancy Drew mysteries, Les Miserables, all the Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz series of books (did you know there are fourteen?), Mad Magazine's Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions - we weren't always terribly discriminating about our reading material. Comic books were also favorites: Fantastic Four, Justice League of America, Green Lantern, Superman, Batman. (I can still recite Green Lantern's oath from memory.)
These days, I also read several blogs and am entertained and often enthralled reading about others' thoughts and experiences along their journeys through life. Most are exceedingly well-written, carrying me, the reader, through funny tales or thoughtful memories, making me laugh, cry, think, reconsider, take a stand, recall my own memories.
Most of these writers aren't professional writers; they don't have years of experience; they haven't published books or articles, or have doctorates in English and framed degrees hanging on their walls. They're wonderful casual writers, compelled by their spirit to write and tell a story or share an experience. A misspelled word, incorrect punctuation, a run-on sentence - none of this bothers me one little whit (is there such a thing as a big whit?) with these writers. I really don't care about writing errors in casual communications. They aren't getting paid to put out a professional publication or Web site. I make errors on my own blog and, even more so, in the e-mails I send (as my daughter lovingly points out to me). These are casual writing mediums, not held to the same standard of accuracy and writing precision as professional work.

I do hold higher expectations for professional writers, though; those who are paid to put words together to describe a service, tug at the heartstrings, rip a bodice or compel a sale. I expect those who publish in print, TV, the Web or anywhere else to spell words correctly and use the language according to their best understanding of Strunk and White or their company's style book. These are two entirely different standards: if you are a compensated professional writer, you should strive to follow the basic rules of writing. If you're a casual writer, a more relaxed and less rigid style is perfectly fine. (As if anyone should care what the heck I think about their casual writing!)

Please don't think that my previous post was in any way directed toward my blogging friends. What's a typo between friends, right? But errors in newspapers and TV shows and Web sites just shouldn't happen. There are numerous copy checks throughout the professional process from the time the copywriter puts pen to paper to the final publication of those words:
  • The copywriter's copy is always proofread before approval; sometimes it will also go to an editor.

  • For the Web, there is usually a QA process where the copy is checked again before the developers put the copy on the site.

  • In the case of the Hallmark site in my previous post, that word "Tradtional" is a graphic, so an artist had to create that graphic and "cut it" for the site.

  • After the site was created by the developers, it went through another QA process in a test environment, then was tested again in a staging environment then an approval environment before final sign-off and approval.

There were numerous opportunities to catch that error by those who are paid to do so. In my experience, the artist who created the graphic most likely just spelled it wrong when he/she created it; I've seen it other times in my work. Artists aren't writers. Developers aren't writers. That's not what they are educated in or paid to do. But the QA folks and the final approval folks should've caught this before I, a consumer, did.

So, when I post the occasional typo or grammatical error that I spot while reading, please know that it's not a swipe at casual writers in any way. Keep on writing any way you like and I'll keep on reading. And if you decide to publish a book (which I think some of you talented writers should do), I'd be honored to serve as your editor.

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