Having laboured long and hard this week on the textual healing, or, more conventionally speaking, editing of the 230-page manuscript of a close associate’s academic treatise, I’m sorely in need of some textual healing of my own.
Because as gladly as I agreed, indeed volunteered for this process of nit-picking another’s work for the purpose of improving if not possibly perfecting it for final printing, I can’t concentrate on it for too long at a time without taking a restorative break.
As I’m doing here and now outside a local cafe over a large cappuccino, and, whenever I can be bothered walking far enough away from other patrons to legally smoke one, a cigarette.
But, as much of a tonic as a change of scene and a double dose of caffeine and nicotine can be to the tedium-numbed brain, the most effective tonic is proving to be the turning of my mind to the composition of this blog.
After all, I’m a writer, not a righter of the wrongs of other writers’ writing. In fact ever since I was an advertising copywriter, I’ve had a horror of causing others the kind of anguish I’ve suffered at the hands of self-styled copy-righters.
And the more I’ve taken to entertaining myself and even a few readers by employing puns, double-entendres, homophonic neologisms and other forms of wordplay in my work, the more unwilling I’ve become inflict on other writers the outrageous indignities I’ve suffered at the hands of the spelling and grammar police.
Like SpelChek or whatever this accursed automatic ‘corrective’ function is called, for a start, as it has an infuriating way of changing my intentionally-invented near-words and non-words into their close conventional equivalents, thus rendering my message meaningless until I go back and manually change everything back again.
Then, of course, the version of the copy that I’m finally content with has to go to a sub-editor on its way to publication, and an insensitive or slow-witted sub-editor can do even more damage, if possible, than even SpelChek is capable of.
And in the spirit of the virtually universal ethical requirement to “not do unto others what we would not have others do unto us”, I hate the thought of passing such disappointment on to fellow writers.
But now that I’ve managed to get that off my chest, in the process being a little creative if not creazy in aid of my own textual self-healing, I see it’s high time I got back to acting like the kind of heel that presumes the right to heal the wrongs of other writers’ texts.
Or, if you prefer, to, however unwillingly provide proof of the truth of the proclamation by the great H. G. Wells, perhaps prompted by the realisation that his classic War of the Worlds ran a hellish, indeed single-l-ish risk of having its title amended to War of the Words by some sub-editing idiot, that “no passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft”.