Over the past week I was doing line-edits of Blood of Ambrose and a new(ish) Morlock story for Black Gate and I was forcibly reminded that I cannot read my own work attentively. I don’t mean that I find it unbearable (though that’s a point of view, I guess). But if I sit down and try to proofread something I’ve written, soon I start fiddling with the writing, and I drift away from the text-as-it-is toward some glowing Platonic ideal of the-text-as-it-was-meant-to-be. It’s a pleasant state, a very pleasant state–in some ways better than the urgent fever of initial composition. But it’s the worst possible state of mind to spot, say, the dozen or so instances where I wrote “they” but should have written “the” (or vice versa). The best way for me to tackle that assignment is with a hardcopy and a pen and work in short stretches, but even that doesn’t always keep me on task.
So it was as a fellow sufferer that I saw recently some graffiti in a building where I teach a class. Someone had written, in bold black marker and carefully formed capitals,
I felt the compulsion to add, “Except spellin’!” But then I remembered the plank in my own proofreading eye and passed on.