DJ Mansker lives in southeast Arizona. By day, DJ puts her twenty plus years of experience in the trenches of social work to use in the protective services. By night, she is a closet novelist and wait staff to her cat Trinidad. As a member of several local and national writers organizations she continues to hone her writing skills as she works to complete her first novel.
The Editor Run Amok
–Superman had his booth. You have confession corner. A bizarre, if not insane, straight dialogue between a booth and its confessor. Could this be you?
Just look at that sign! Doesn’t the city pay attention? Don’t they know they have to use a period after the abbreviation for street? No wonder we’re raising a society of illiterate children. Our civic leaders don’t even try to set an example. No one pays attention, no one cares until it’s too late. They just let the errors pile up. Why, in my day, cars would have piled up at the sight of such transgression. But no, not today, anything goes and there isn’t anyone to care, except me.
Oh! Hello officer. No, I’m fine. I was just fixing this street sign. Would you be a dear and hand me that small brush with the white paint on it? They forgot to put the period after the abbreviation for street. I used to be able to carry my supplies up the ladder with me, but with age and all… What do you mean, “move along”? Well! I never!
What’s this? A confession booth right here on the street corner? Uh, more travesty. “Confessions only $1”. It isn’t even spelled out. Is my work never done? Where’s my big correction pen? Oh no. Wouldn’t you know I’m out of ink? I’ll have to come back. Wait! I have my pocket sized correction pen. I can fix this smaller sign instead. “C’mon in”. Oh p-lease, it’s “come in”. Where am I, Dogpatch?
Hey! Stop That! Whaddaya think you’re doing? You can’t erase my sign like that. Wait! No. Not under my welcome sign, I’m ticklish there. Stop! Stop! I can’t stand it. All right already, uncle.
Hold still. I just need to get this spelled out completely and I’ll be done. There, see? Isn’t that much better? It’s a nice complete phrase, inviting and accurate, “Won’t you please come in?” It’s the invitation to your business. It should be more formal, putting your best foot forward.
Ok. Fine. Yes, it’s much better. Thank you. Now, would you like to come in and talk for a bit, let go of some of the burden you’ve taken on? It’s got to be overwhelming feeling responsible for the written errors of our society. The political gaffs alone are enough to sink a Hornet class carrier.
Well, I guess I should. Clearly you need some instruction. Your signage is all wrong and apparently, no one else cares enough to do anything about it. And it’s true, as a retired English teacher I am cursed with the inherent trappings associated with a lifetime devoted to the preservation of our spoken and written language.
Ah yes, an English teacher. I should have recognized you immediately. I’ll never forget Sister Mary Margaret, my twelfth grade English teacher. She sure gave Run DMC a run for his money in the rap department. Of course, she used an eighteen- inch ruler and had a much longer reach than he. Ah, I was but a splinter of the booth I am now, rough-hewn and green, too full of pitch to pay attention.
Excuse me, but I thought I paid a dollar to discuss my situation.
Er, uh, yes, of course. You’re right. So- you’re spending your days searching out errors and correcting them. Is that all errors, or just typos, or what?
Primarily, I’m working on punctuation. I’ve had to cut back lately. I used to do more editing for grammar and content, but that’s not working out these days. I’m sure you’ve noticed I have a slight limp and my right hand is deteriorating. I’m having trouble climbing ladders and carrying my supplies. Normally, I tell people it’s arthritis, but I know it’s something more.
It’s true. I did notice you have something of a handicap there. What do you think is happening?
Well…I’ve never told anyone this before, but I find I’m losing length in my fingers, and my legs are growing shorter, the more in-depth editing I try to do. It’s like I’m erasing myself. It’s terrifying. If I stick to punctuation and typos, I feel a slight tingling sensation. I figure that’s just the high that comes from doing a job and doing it well.
Hmm. I must admit this is a new one. I thought I’d heard just about all there was to hear about the business of writing. You’ve definitely got me on this one. How are you dealing with this?
I’m not. I’m not prepared to give up on the English language. The punctuation, the typos, the misprints, they’re all fixable. It’s the grammar and speech in general that worry me. I don’t even recognize my own language. Movies, television, radio, the printed word, all abound with abomination. It’s no wonder people mumble and slur. They’re ashamed of what they’re saying but have no idea it’s wrong or how to correct it. And – don’t get me started on vocabulary. Supposably? What is that? It’s supposedly. How hard is that, really? And these ones. It’s these, just plain these! Oh! It makes my teeth hurt.
It’s okay. It’s okay. Calm down. It’ll be all right. There have been some changes in the status quo, even since I left school and certainly since you did. Just between us, I’m glad they’ve cut back on the use of commas. There were so many rules I never knew when to use them. Now, I just cut out about half of what I think is needed and let the rest ride. But, I must admit I’m still struggling with the concept of only one space after a period. That’s going to take some serious brainwashing to correct. I don’t know about you, but my spacebar is on autopilot.
A single space is acceptable? Are you kidding me?
No. It’s not acceptable. It’s expected.
Great. Now my teeth hurt and there’s a pain in my neck. I hope my head doesn’t start shrinking. I guess it’s time I invest in an updated grammar and punctuation text. Text? Ha! It’s probably more of a short story these days. Well, it’s a good thing the brothers and sisters of the English guilds are still out there.
Here! Here! And as they say, if you can read this and it makes any sense, thank an English teacher or an editor.