The Working Pilgrim

I first went to India in 1974 as a very young woman and surprisingly didn’t return to Australia for a decade. I thought I was just going to explore my spiritual mecca for a short period but ended up living in an ashrama and doing volunteer work as a teacher, seamstress, editor and general Jill of all Trades. In those pioneer days, just to make a phone call to Calcutta (now Kolkata) meant booking the call two days in advance and then having to shout and scream down the phone to be heard. Yesterday I arrived in the same place for what has become an annual stay of three months. Today I had wireless internet installed and I’m ready and set up to service my clients from around the world. Don’t you just love technology!file991296598832

The semi-colon

For authors and editors, the evergreen ‘Strunk and White’ is a great reference. Many of us don’t know when to use semi-colons and often misuse them. Here is what Strunk and White says about the matter: “Do not join independent clauses by a comma. If two or more clauses grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semi-colon. [EG] ‘It is nearly half past five; we cannot reach town before dark.’

The critics

A writing tip a budding author offers:
“Learn to take criticism and seek it out at every opportunity. Don’t get upset even if you think the criticism is harsh, don’t be offended even if you think it’s wrong, and always thank those who take the time to offer it.”
I think this is a maxim we can apply even in life although I wouldn’t seek out the criticism. My internal critic does that enough, thanks.

Movies or the Flicks?

Our friend H.W. Fowler strikes again: Under the listing ‘movies’, he says, “Americans go to the movies. English people, after a half-hearted experiment with ‘flicks’, now go either to the ‘pictures’ or to the ‘cinema’.” 
WIth the Americanisation of Australia, I bet we all say ‘movies’ – I know I do. What do you say?

Fully [sic] …

MFU0973Okay, we all know what [sic] means when it is placed near a misspelt word in a quote. But do you know what sic really means in Latin?
It’s ‘sic erat scriptum’, which when translated means ‘thus it was written’. So the quote has been transcribed exactly as found in the original source complete with erroneous spelling or non-standard presentation. In other words, transcribed warts and all.


Publishing terms made easy

The publishing industry is rife with terms that new authors may not be familiar with. Here are some to help you out:
Author’s corrections: Corrections that an author makes to proofs that alter the original text. The typesetter will charge for the cost of making these changes. Generally the printer will allow one round of author’s corrections in the original print quote.

Epson proofs and dyelines: Epson proofs are final, coloured proofs before the printers proceed to dyelines. Generally only minor changes should be made at this late stage, such as colour corrections to images or a minor typo amended. Major rewrites are neither encouraged nor generally allowed.

file000755244602 Dyelines are proofs that are sent after Epsons and used to check pagination, and tops and bottoms of columns to make sure nothing has been dropped off. Images are also checked to make sure there are no issues. However, these are not high resolution proofs, so colour correctness needs to be checked at Epson proof change.

Next post will be about my favourite: the Em and En dash.

Punctuation: Objective or Subjective?

STOP sign
Here’s a great quote from Carey’s ‘Mind the Stop’ about the nature of punctuation – “To say that no two persons punctuate exactly alike would no doubt be an exaggeration, but most people would probably agree that punctuation is a matter not only of rules but of personal taste.”
After decades of working with words, I know this to be true. The tendency in current usage is to be sparing with the comma, but be careful this doesn’t affect the meaning.

TIP: Read G.V. Carey’s ‘MIND THE STOP. A Brief Guide to Punctuation’

The Apostrophe: friend or foe?

Despite decades of study including time spent at universities, writers and journalists often misuse the apostrophe. Here are six tips:
1. Use an apostrophe and ‘s’ to form the possessive case of singular nouns (a year’s work). [For plural nouns in the possessive case, use “two years’ work”.]
2. Same goes for the possessive case of indefinite pronouns (anyone’s guess).
3. Personal pronouns do not require an apostrophe (your/yours).
4. To form the possessive of compound nouns, make the last element the possessive (daughter-in-law’s cooking or daughters-in-laws’ cooking).
5. To show joint ownership, make the last name possessive (Mark and Jane’s villa).
6. To show separate ownership, make each name possessive (Mark’s and Ben’s hats).
Tell me if you like these and I’ll post some more …


Editor: Friend or Foe?

file611236549064The relationship between author and editor is a heady brew of collaboration, the zest of the sports coach encouraging the team, the wisdom of a mentor, the knowledge of a teacher and the diplomacy of an adviser. The editor needs to bond with the author, to become immersed in the story their client is telling, but have the courage to stand strong, but in the friendliest way, when you know that word, that phrase, that structure needs to change.