Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More About Penelope's Grammar Rant

I had some time to think about this post more last night and think I should have said more about it.

On the surface I agree that people should not spend their time pointing out blog typos in the comments section and using these typos as their "evidence" that the writer is a moron. These are the same trolls who spend all day making snarky comments about newspaper stories online and sniping at each other about their typos. They're the same ones who send me letters about a typo in a book. It makes them feel superior, I suppose.

I also agree with her when she says that perfectionism is a sickness. Lots of people make themselves plenty unhappy about things that just don't matter in the big-picture scheme of things (I knew a guy who had a heart attack and died because he was so upset over a reorg at work). But I also must raise a voice and say that hundreds of thousands of people have used that "sickness" (or talent, or compulsion) to earn good livings as editors. We all come to this world with a different talent, and all those "dash it off" writers need a good editor to look after the details for them. Call it a symbiotic relationship.

Penelope's post would seem to be calling for an end to editors--especially for those who can't afford to hire them. Don't worry. I think accuracy is important enough to people that we won't devolve into a culture whose communications all look like text messages.

When it comes to the printed word, though, I think we need to be held to a higher standard than on blogs. There, presumably, we have the benefit of more time and more vetting to help weed out more errors. But there will always be some that slip through.

And when it comes to your resume, unfortunately, there's no room for error--especially if you are applying for a job in publishing. If you aren't good at proofreading, you'd darn well better ask everyone you know to read it over and point out the typos they see. Many employers will automatically disqualify anyone whose resume has a typo on it.

I know that sometimes Penelope posts things just to get a rise out of her readers. This post certainly seems to have done that. At this point, 121 mostly intelligent people have contributed their heated opinions on the subject. Read those comments--they're fascinating.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lori. I'm trying to get entry-level work in publishing (I have a BA and experience), however applying to jobs seems to be getting me nowhere and I think the next step is finding recruiters. Could you recommend some publishing recruiters?

Lori Cates Hand said...


One recruiter I know about is Lynne Palmer (www.lynnepalmerinc.com/). I don't know anyone who has worked with them, but they have advertised in Publishers Weekly for years and are willing to work with entry-level candidates. The other publishing recruiter I know about won't work with entry-level people.

You might also consider trying some good, old-fashioned networking. Where are you located and where do you want to get a job? E-mail me at loricateshand@yahoo.com with more specifics and I'll see whether I can help!

Chuck said...


Seems like you've got a typo here.

"I know that sometimes Penelope posts things just to get a rise out of her readers."

Fourth word should read, "mostly."



Lori Cates Hand said...

Hi Chuck--ha, you are right! She's all about the agitation, isn't she? :)