I need a proof-reader

I wish I were a bit better at proof-reading. Take, for instance, my recent post on Tennessee Williams’ play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I had initially started with this:

Among my reading projects for this year, I had meant to acquaint myself with the plays of Tennessee Williams, a dramatist with whose works I have never felt particularly comfortable.

On revising, I decided this wasn’t quite what I had meant to say: there is no reason, after all, to expect comfort from a work of literature. Quite the contrary: much of the finest literature challenges, and is distinctly uncomfortable. So I changed “comfortable” to “close”: I have never felt close to the plays of Tennessee Williams. However, I neglected to change “with” to “to”. As a consequence, I ended up with the utterly nonsensical sentence:

Among my reading projects for this year, I had meant to acquaint myself with the plays of Tennessee Williams, a dramatist with whose works I have never felt particularly close.

I have now spotted the error, and have corrected it. But not before it had already been up for a couple of days, with various readers no doubt thinking to themselves: “Why should I pay any attention to the literary judgements of some illiterate who can’t even string together a simple sentence?”

It’s a fair point. So may I just assure readers that I really am not really illiterate: merely slapdash!


9 responses to this post.

  1. It happens. It becomes a problem when it happens all the time but that’s not the case here.


  2. Posted by Shonti Mukherjee on December 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    The sponteneity of the the format ie: the blog, invariably creates a minefield of clumsiness and error. Your not as bad as many, some of whom have reputations as scribes.

    Anyway, never mind.

    I personally find it stimulating when individual items or even passages are on the table because I find it easier to engage in a discussion. Doing this does expose the initiator more, however, because a termite like like myself can pick and quibble to my hearts’ delight and could make you appear more foolish or incorrect than you are or deserve to be seen as.

    To an extent, you have to harden yourself and be prepared to take the flak but I do believe, overall, it is a more fulfilling approach.

    It’s the price you pay for the mode of communication you choose.


  3. Posted by Brian Joseph on December 4, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    I usually read your posts and never notice.

    My writing is generally a mess. When my wife has time she is so very kind enough to do some proofreading for me and then my posts look pretty good. When I do not want to burden her it is my readers who suffer.


  4. Here comes a confession – I’m a professional proofreader, copy editor and translator and still overlook mistakes in my posts and typos in my comments. Occasionally I’ve proofread after another proofreader – when something was really delicate – and – cand you belive it found many more mistakes than the other person. It’s a tricky business. part of the reason – when you want to proofread properly you have to print out your manuscript. On the screen I miss a lot.
    I hope it is a tiny consolation. 🙂


  5. And for good measure I just made a few typos in my last comment.


  6. Posted by Shonti Mukherjee on December 6, 2012 at 10:40 am

    There it is…gosh…it’s like being Spartacus!!


  7. Thanks all for your replies. If I may answer you all at once…

    I really am the worst proofreader in the world, especially of my own work: I tend to see what i think I wrote rather than what I really wrote. And often, when I look back over my older posts, I squirm with embarrassment. It’s partly vanity: I may not exactly be the greatest writer on earth, but I don’t want to be thought of as semi-literate either!

    Well, it’s been a hectic week: this weekend, with a bit of luck, I’ll be back to writing proper posts instead of quick little notes such as this.


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