Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Bounds of My Ineptitude

Strike that. My ineptitude knows no bounds...

So while I have spent much of the last month giving a careful read to Azalea Assault (as had Helena Soister—THANK YOU!), which had arrived back with copyeditor markings every which way, I only began Friday (and then proceeded to spend all day FOR THREE FREAKING DAYS) carefully accepting, barely tweaking and occasionally adding, explaining or changing things in my manuscript. A slow process... like 10 pages an hour slow.  And I've reached a conclusion.

Say it with me (five times fast) Bumbling Bunch of Belligerent Baboons.

That is obviously who wrote this... or what I am... or something. I lack competence on every level.

Just to share some of the many things I don't know...

Further: I know you use farther for distance, but apparently am unclear on the other distinctions. I seem to call it wrong every time.

Awhile. One word. Who knew?

The FREAKING TOBACCO MUSEUM SHUT DOWN! I was looking for a tacky tourist site and SWEAR I found one. Some time between my first draft (and research) and now: Poof. Bye-bye. All gone.

Peg board: A TRADEMARKED ITEM. Tell me friends. What would YOU call a board with pegs in it? You know... to hang keys or something? Apparently Peggy has trademarked it because I can't think of any other reason they'd allow simple descriptor words to be trademarked. Xerox? Sure. Kleenex? Fine. These words mean nothing but the brands have taken over the items of 'copy' and 'tissue'. But peg board? Come on... I'm pretty sure Peggy was sleeping with somebody in the patent office.

Am I the only one giggling helplessly?
Erica and Christy helped me not feel so alone on the musical hyphen issue:

The book was well written (no hyphen)
It was a well-written book (hyphen)

But what I really feel down on was all the compound words... backyards and backseats and setups. Have I just been padding my word count all this time? Apparently.

I think it may be a disadvantage that I talk slowly and enunciate carefully. I SAY all those as two words. There is a clear break in them when I say them. Back yard. (where the hot tub was) back seat (where the virginity disappeared... erm) Maybe it's just that these words have the IMPORT of two... *cough*  [yeah yeah, excuses excuses]

Commas. Okay. I might as well have just taken a box and tossed 'em up for all the accuracy I had in placing these puppies. I mean, I'm aware I have a comma fetish, and as I said, I speak slowly—so some of my characters speak slowly... and pause now and again... and what the FREAK is wrong with a comma to note a pause!? But then I must over compensate along the way, because I had a lot of missing commas, too. Just for the record, Penguin LIKES the Oxford comma, location-of-Oxford-be-damned.

The Em-Dash-Ellipse Kerfuffle: Oi. Nuff said.

So have any of you had one of these reality checks that passing the grammar test to get into J-school (J for journalism) was NOT adequate knowledge of the English Language for publishing a book?

*sigh *


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Ha! Oh, don't worry about it...I always feel like an idiot when the edits come in. My favorite was always "towards." I say that the character moved "towards" something. No, no. It's "toward." It's been drummed out of me now.

Too funny about Peggy and her board! I'd call it a bulletin board maybe. Or cork board. I'm sorry about the tobacco museum! That sucks. Maybe you can make up a similar substitute?

Old Kitty said...

Yes (in answer to your question!) LOL!

But seriously! Grammar shmammar! You are still most NAKED Tart! Yay!

p.s. never new about Peg Board (TM). LOL!

Take care x

Old Kitty said...

p.s. See? new - knew. Oi indeed! LOL! x

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Peg board is a brand name? Since when? Did the dart board people give permission?

Tonja said...

If one of my characters is playing a Game Boy (GameBoy? Gameboy?) I have to say "handheld gaming device" instead? Do I have to use the phrase "building blocks" instead of Legos?

Lisa said...

Oh my word. I haven't even considered getting to this point, but if I do, I'm sure my face is going to be red. RED.

Still, I'm so excited for your progress!

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...


Hart Johnson said...

Elizabeth-I'm relieved you feel that way, too! I feel less alone, anyway!

Jenny *giggles* See the now-know thing is totally typo... they don't even SOUND the same *snort*

Alex-BUWAHAHAHAHA! I should ask, eh?

Tonja-oddly, I think consumer stuff like that is often okay. You can say Coke and Pepsi and such--I think they see it as advertising? Not sure about the technicalities. Maybe a peg board is intellectual property?

Lisa-You'll get there! I like that careful eye on what goes out, but yeah... feeling like a moron for the time being...

Vic-caught that, eh? TMI is sort of the philosophy around here...

Jessica Bell said...

LOL. Different publishers have differnt preferences. I never write "a while" as one word. And it's not a strict rule. In fact, the two words came first, I'm pretty certain. :) Don't worry about it all. Just stick to your publisher's style guide. I bet you anything, if you work with another publisher, you find conflicting rules :)

Tina said...

I think you can turn any subject into comedy. You had me snorting my "non-caloric Caffeinated Beverage with a distinct citrus flavor nicknamed after a type of land formation" up my nose. I second all your incredulity at ineptitude and add my own, personal, best inadequacy: parentheses. (At the end of the sentence.) (Should the end punctuation go inside or outside the parenth's)?

Tina @ Life is Good

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

The editor of my manuscript was good. And I think I'm no slouch when it comes to writing. However, I know I've misused commas and she couldn't catch them all and neither could I. At some point last month I just gave up and said enough is enough. I think I hit everything important. But I'm sure in the final print of my manuscript there will be a comma or two that jump off the page and cause grammar rage in someone. I shrug and just don't care anymore.

Interesting that peg board is trademarked. Chick Fil-A has trademarked "eat mor chiken". I have a problem with that because they are suing a guy that is advertising "eat more (something or other)". Can't remember what it was...but it wasn't chicken.

If I remember correctly, Sarah Palin has trademarked her name.

Oh the haphazard world that we navigate. /facepalm

Carol Kilgore said...

Just got a line edit back. I feel your pain :)

Hart Johnson said...

Jessica-yeah, I figured there were a lot of those that are just publisher or editor specific.... Reassuring to hear it from a pro, though.

Tina-if I don't laugh, I might cry... and yeah, that punctuation placement can be tricky!

Michael-Eat more KALE. (as if Kale-eaters would EAT Chik Fil-A... teehee. And I don't think misplaced commas are bad in the grand scheme of things, largely because there is wiggle room. It is wrong words and blatent typos I notice.

Carol-glad I'm not alone!

Southpaw said...

I never would have guess Peg Board was a brand. It would be cumbersome to write about a "perforated hardboard" - and who would know what your were talking about! LOL

KarenG said...

LOLing about your Peggy board comment, and grinning at all the rest. Most of us feel pretty ignorant at all the rules, none of which apply anywhere but in publishing. Like commas for example. Nobody cares where you put them except for an editor.

mshatch said...

lol. Who knew there were so many conflicting grammar rules. I've decided that I will follow them wherever it makes sense TO ME. And I'm with you on the back yard.

Helena said...

Yes, Hart, you lack competence on every level. That's why you're about to be a published writer and have a big honkin' successful blog.

And commas are in some cases optional. Some people use 'em liberally, some don't. No big whup.

Cold As Heaven said...

In the Nordic languages, the rule is to use compound words rather than English-style word breaking. However, the spell checkers in word-processing software (like MS Word) suggest word breaking. Consequently, you get a red line under the compound words when writing correctly, and the red line disappear when the word is split (which is wrong). No wonder the kids struggle with the compound rule >:)

Cold As Heaven

Jennee said...

Huh, the peg board bit might come up useful in trivia some day! And, I go a little comma crazy, too. In fact, my grammar isn't that great, now that I think about it.

Hart Johnson said...

Holly-perforated hardboard? yeah, i wouldn't have a CLUE (we went with 'hook'--I just needed the keys hanging somewhere, after all...

Karen-it's true... but BOY do those editors care!

MS-I figure since each editor is a little different, that is the best approach unless you know ahead who is publishing it. Like I will know for next time for the cozies--I have at least 3 with them.

Helena *snort* --you had some great catches, my friend! I was definitely impressed!

CaH-Man, you'd think you could ask Microsoft to ease up, then! Writing them as 2 never gets caught because separately they are words, but SO time consuming to both try them together and separate!

Jennee-we should request they put that in there! I wonder what other every day items with dull names are trademarked!

C D Meetens said...

I love your humour about all the niggling grammar rules. As for the commas, I think I put lots in wrong places too. And peg board being a TM? I'm speechless!

Nancy said...

my big issue seemed to be then and than. I know the difference but it seems when I get going I throw the words in randomly whether I am sequencing or comparing. Every time (or everytime) I get that feedback I cringe for missing it yet again.

Jan Morrison said...

I love this. OK so misery loves company. Especially the comma thing. Freaking do not get it. The fear of them makes me write in short punchy sentences like a Hemingway clone. On the hyphenated word thing - if the sentence doesn't make sense if you take one of the words off then you have to hyphen it. As in "It was a well book." don't think so. I think I do the compound word thing too. jeesh. But the worst thing is that I don't know. I think I switch it up so not only am I wrong but I'm inconsistent with it. enuff.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Hart! Wow, you have been busy. I've read all of your posts on this page and have enjoyed catching up. Congrats on all of your hard work, and I'm sorry that you lost your friend.

On this post, I had to comment. I was pretty good at spelling and grammar and stuff, but I swear that using spell check on blogger and FB is messing me up big time. They don't seem to recognize compound words and now have me in doubt on if I am right or if they are right!

Have a great rest of the week,

Kathy M.