Enter subTerrain’s Lush Triumphant literary contest

subT_lushtriumphant2014

If you’ve got a great story, poem or piece of creative non-fiction (i.e., essay, memoir or commentary) that needs to be read to be believed (and is yet unpublished), enter it in subTerrain magazine’s 2014 Lush Triumphant literary awards competition. Winners and runners-up in each category get cash prizes AND publication in upcoming issues of the magazine.

The deadline is May 15, 2014, and entry fees include a one-year subscription to subTerrain. (And this ain’t your hippie-aunt-from-Saltspring’s lit mag, either.)

So get that brilliant piece printed on some 8 1/2 by 11, snug it up with a paper clip, and slip it into an envelope with a cheque for the entry fees and slide it on into the mailbox, pointing this way:

Lush Triumphant Literary Awards
c/o subTerrain Magazine
PO Box 3008, Main Post Office
Vancouver, BC V6B 3X5

(That’s Canada for you international and US readers – and your entries are welcome too.)

New for 2014: you can also enter online via this magic portal.

For more details, visit the Lush Triumphant webpage and Facebook.

* Full disclosure: I am a member of the subTerrain Editorial Collective. Be brilliant my friends.

Writing on the railroad

J.M.W. Turner, Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway (1844; public domain artwork via Wikimedia Commons)

This has to be one of the coolest things I’ve heard of in a while: Amtrak is starting a writer’s residency program. The deal is that writers can apply to take a free round-trip anywhere on its system and simply write as they ride the rails.

The program started rather informally as a Twitter exchange in which a writer named Jessica Gross expressed a wish to write aboard a moving train. Amtrak set her up with a seat from New York to Chicago, and she later wrote about the experience for the Paris Review.

Not surprisingly, other writers took notice, and Amtrak is now setting up a more formal program and application process. It’s not clear what the requirements will be on the writer’s side, other than to use the time to write aboard the train and perhaps to send out some tweets en route. The Wire blog post contains a good Q&A and Amtrak’s social media director Julia Quinn also participated in a Reddit AMA session.

As a Canadian resident, I probably can’t apply for this program, but VIA Rail, are you listening?

UPDATE: It seems that Amtrak has put in some troubling language surrounding “exclusive” rights to the required writing sample in paragraph 6 of the terms and conditions. The comments on Amtrak’s blog post on how to apply are interesting – make sure you have all the info before applying, know before you go!

Meditations on crowing

Vancouver Crow Sunset

Vancouver, BC, has many spectacular natural sights. Views we have in abundance; go to any high place and you can gawk at the mountains, the harbour, the bridges, and sometimes even Georgia Strait and the misty archipelago of the Gulf Islands. But one of the most beautiful encounters you can have with nature in the city happens in a non-scenic industrial neighbourhood of central Burnaby.

At dusk on a clear day, look up at the sky and you can see them flying in from every direction: crows, thousands of crows. They converge on the neighbourhood around the intersection of approximately Still Creek Avenue and Gilmore Avenue, and land everywhere: parking lots, fences, power lines, railroad tracks, and of course, the thin green strip of trees and bushes that remain of what was once marshland. Before business parks and warehouses began eating away at the wetlands surrounding Still Creek, this was their nightly roost. Crows being the smart, adaptable creatures they are, they have just made use of the new structures people have put in their former home.

This scene has often been compared to the classic Hitchcock movie The Birds. In this live version, the crows are non-malevolent but I still can’t help feeling, as I pedal past on my bike at sunset, that I am a visitor in their world. They make a terrific noise and there are lots of birds swooping overhead, more and more arriving and jostling for a spot to land, but they take no notice of me.

There’s a comfort of being alone among the crowd. They are too busy doing their bird things and calling out to another and sorting out their own highly particular social order to be bothered by one insignificant human. They don’t care if I gawk in amazement at their sheer numbers and the beauty of this phenomenon. They don’t require my attention; they will do this mysterious thing that they do, every single night in this particular place, whether I notice or not.

Conventional wisdom would have it that I would want to stand out for being different. Maybe I should wave my arms or try to shout out about the din. But what good would that do? At best, I would use up my own precious energy only for the purpose of getting their attention. At worst, the crows would swoop down, maybe even dive bomb or attack. Why would I want that? And who are we to each other anyhow? Just a couple of species who happen to be in the same space (kind of like high school, or the Internet).

With all the birds crowing to one another, the noise is deafening. You cannot even hear the traffic on the freeway only a couple hundred metres away, and it’s rush hour. It is a tunnel of bird noise, and even if I could pick out any specific voice, I would not understand the language they’re speaking. Like I said, I’m just a visitor here. But altogether, the sight and the sound and the fleeting light in the winter sky reach out and speak to me.

I want to linger, grab my camera, capture the moment, but no shaky video with bad sound can give you the sensation of being there. (And I actually took the photo you see here on an another jaunt through the area, when the birds seemed to have settled down to their places.) And I wanted to just be in the moment for once in all my overly connected life.

At one time, the Internet represented a second life, where you could create a persona of your choice complete with a pseudonym. Now, the web of social media is intricately woven into your real life and comes complete with multiple dire warnings about the harm you could do to your image by posting the wrong pictures or an ill-thought-out update. Nothing is private, they say; the settings are just window dressing. And over it all hangs the sinister implication of digital spying. I personally don’t know who would be interested in my life online, but there I am, squawking away anyway, along with the rest of the world.

Personally, I liked that none of these thousands of crows were trying to get my attention individually. Because when crows want you to notice them, it is not pleasant and, as Hitchcock demonstrated, can be downright scary. People who try to get attention from the crowd can be equally annoying and scary in their quest to get in your eyeballs, get clicks and shares and likes, get “mindshare,” get you to do something. (Those clickbaiting headlines from Upworthy come to mind.) You’re constantly building new shields to deflect crows that just won’t quit.

I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, as of course, part of my job is being a copywriter. I write things that are designed to persuade and inform people about the things clients want them to know. And I am ever aware of the problem of bringing attention to this ad, this brochure, this website, within the cacophonous din of a million other messages and a thousand other concerns the real live humans we want to reach have to contend with. Will we reach them by shouting louder than the others or by being flashier and bolder or by interrupting their attention to bring them These Important Messages? Hmmm. Probably not.

But maybe, just maybe, if we can be honestly together in the same space, there is a chance of reaching through the noise and having a moment to think and to meditate and to feel something real.

subTerrain looking for “Coincidence” submissions

subter 67“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” – Albert Einstein

Two rays of light strike a surface at the same point, at the same time. Your high school English teacher who you just thought of for the first time in years sits next to you on a plane. The one-night stand you brought home turns out to be the good friend of your ex, who is crashing on your couch. Your manuscript gets picked up by a major publisher seconds after you’ve tossed it in the trash. Some of us call it accidental, while some of us search for meaning… Is it fate? An accident? A conspiracy? Or just … a coincidence?

subTerrain magazine has just extended the deadline for submissions for issue 67, “Coincidence,” to February 7, 2014. So if you just happen to have some original fiction, non-fiction, poetry etc., send it right away. Mark the envelope “Coincidence” and send it to:

subTerrain Magazine
P.O. Box 3008, MPO
Vancouver, BC V6B 3X5
CANADA

More information, right this way: http://subterrain.ca/about/35/sub-terrain-writer-s-guidelines

Link
Subscribe and enter to win Whistler Prize Pack

Subscribe and enter to win Whistler Prize Pack

My good friends at Vancouver-based Subterrain magazine* are currently running a contest. Subscribe or renew before October 11, 2013, and you could win a very literary weekend in Whistler. And you’ll enjoy several issues packed with thought-provoking, unboring writing and art: stories, poetry, commentary, interviews and reviews. Visit subterrain.ca/subscriptions to enter.

*Full disclosure: I am a member of the editorial board.

The Joy of Editing

We Can Edit

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Editing and proofreading don’t enjoy the glamorous image of writing. They’re kind of like the siblings to the star. Sometimes you see a picture of, say, Nicole Kidman posing with her sister at a movie premiere in one of those magazines you only admit to reading at the hair salon. They look somewhat alike, but one is clearly less glossy than the other. Editing is the rarely seen sister. But without editing, most writing would look quite different. (Perhaps a better analogy would be the star posing with her hairdresser, but now you know too much about my low-brow reading habits, anyway.)

When I edit, it’s a privilege to help improve someone’s writing. When I write, it can be a privilege to be edited. But it’s a rare privilege to be edited by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about and can convey suggestions for improvement in specific, tactful terms. For example, on an assignment I took to write a newsletter, the copy for the events calendar section came back with a reviewer comment: “Where did the info for these events come from? Please change.”

This is the opposite of good editing – it insults the writer and gives no direction on how to improve the content. Blunt, nonspecific, unhelpful, uninformed comments are exactly what professional editors are trained to avoid. And it gives me no small measure of  joy to give my clients a better editing experience than what is usually afforded me!

When I’m editing, I love catching all those little errors: typos, inconsistencies, factual errors, bad usage, deviations from the style sheet. I take pleasure in reducing the number of times in the world that “impact” is used as a verb (most of the time it should be “affect”) or weeding out wordy, redundant expressions. These little things make up for the sometimes tedious cleanup of maybe thousands hundreds of stray commas, hyphens, and apostrophes from a manuscript.

I also take pride in knowing my boundaries in editing, that is, what is out of my scope to change on a particular job, even if I would have written it differently. Yes, we want to improve a thing, but like doctors, we also must avoid doing harm. And we are constrained always by time and budget.

Editing is invisible to the reader, but transparent to the writer and to the rest of the team. Editors often work alone, physically, but are almost always part of a team and a process. Others will see our work, and will question it, and we have to be prepared to explain every single change. Luckily, I am not often asked to defend the removal of a comma, but I need to supply a (specific) reason if asked.  And then I get to display my nerdy command of style guides and writing conventions and arcane references. “Did you really want to talk about punctuation?” I’ll say, excited. “Because we can talk about punctuation.”

I don’t always win the battle for minutia, but I’m willing to at least spar a bit on a point where I think it will really affect the reader. That’s who it’s all about, after all, the reader to whom I am mostly invisible, except when a typo shows up in a headline and they invoke me, crying out, “Where was the editor?!” Most likely I was down in paragraph 5 checking a crucial fact and confirming and correcting the spelling of the subject’s name, and the headline may have been rewritten hastily after it was out of my hands. It’s a good thing no one ever died of a typo.

The joy of editing is neither in the glory (non-existent) nor the blame (world’s funnest game), but in the craft. We do our magic, the red ink is scrubbed away, and then we disappear. Until the cheque arrives, and the next project begins, and my eyes are needed once more.

The Joy of Drafting

typewriter

“Typewriter” by Amy Dame, via Flickr

“Writing is starting.”

“Writing is finishing.”

Yay! Now that I have those two quotes down—I heard them somewhere and will check them later*—I have conquered a blank screen. I have started writing. I have an idea in my head of what this post will be. I scrawled a few notes on a notepad beside the bed about a week ago. Now with a space in the calendar, I finally sat down to try it out.

If this post sounds a little stream of consciousness, it is because I am drafting. When I am drafting, I am trying to turn off the editor and JUST GO. Usually when I write, I never get up too much of a head of steam because I fall into the trap of revising as I go. Computers let us do that. Back in the day, you just tore out the paper from the typewriter and crumpled it up and started again. At least, that is the classic image of the writer in movies, agonizing over starting. And then, the music comes up and we see him or her typing and motoring along with inspiration as the words just flow through the fingers.

Today, maybe the equivalent image would be someone on a computer screen, deleting several tries and then finally getting into the flow. It doesn’t translate as well to screen, but then writing never really looks like it does on TV. (Does anything?) Me, it’s sitting down at all that’s the challenge.

When I have an assignment, it usually has a deadline, which is the ultimate motivator, along with the promise of some money at some point in what I hope is the near future. And the deadline means the sitting and writing shall be done at some point, because I like hitting my deadlines as much as I like writing in a clean house with alphabetized CDs.

Another saying: “I hate writing, I love having written.” Dorothy Parker also reportedly said two of her favourite words were “Cheque enclosed.”

Personally, I love typing. I love the sound of typing. I feel good when I’m typing. Breathe. Thinking. Keep typing. It’s the music we crave.

Speaking of music, I love drafting to music. When I need to write, or when I need to have written, I put on beautiful, motivating rock. When I’m editing, it’s non-distracting classical piano like Chopin or instrumental jazz like Brubeck or Bechet. But for writing, nothing gets the fingers moving like Led Zeppelin. I think I’ll put it on now.

There. Houses of the Holy Physical Graffiti, disc 1, because I want to hear “Kashmir.” (Edit: I always get those two albums mixed up, because the image of the building on the cover throws me off.)

If I even think of Facebook, I have to go check it. Resist, resist.

Once I get started with a piece of writing, the thing I love about drafting is the freedom. The piece is nothing yet, so it could be anything. And if I can turn off that revisional urge to shape it while it’s still a heap, it can be. I’m not just talking about creative writing, but also copy writing, in which the final product has to be extremely focused, catchy and, these days, short.

Copy writing will also be relentlessly scrutinized and revised before unleashing to the world, so drafting is the part of the process where it’s just me and a bunch of ideas and more than a few naughty thoughts. Shocking words and dirty mind: it’s all part of the process. Drafting is the party—it’ll get cleaned up eventually, so never mind the mess and inappropriate language.

Maybe that’s my editor talking again. I suppose I look at drafting as a reductionist process—if you can get the words out in a big block of text, you then have something to carve up. You start with something and then you cut it down.

But when I think about it some more, I often work the other way too: I write ideas out in bullets and phrases and then flesh them out. It helps, sometimes, to have a skeleton to hang the details on, an outline to keep you on track. God knows, I have enough rambling essays that started with an idea, were drafted in a burst of inspiration and added onto over time, and were never finished. They’re in a folder.

The nice thing about outlining and then writing to it is that it’s non-threatening. Getting a few words and ideas out is a lot easier than trying to achieve artistic perfection out of a blank page. And it’s still something. It gets you started on the process. It’s a shape.

And you’re off.

*As it turns out, neither of my quotes was really accurate. Both are paraphrases of common writing advice. For the first, you might listen to Anne Lamott, author of the well-known book, Bird by Bird: ““Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” For the second piece of wisdom, bestselling author Neil Gaiman says, “Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.” Then again, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck gave this advice to a friend: “Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.” In other words, just get started.

Things no one tells you: How to pronounce segue

Though I consider myself a pretty good speller and perceptive picker-upper of words, the connection between spelling and pronunciation of “segue” — meaning to make a transition from one topic to another — has completely escaped me up until now. I don’t know about you, but I always read segue as something like “seeg.” The last syllable seemed to be silent, like similar-looking words like vague or tongue or league. But as it turns out (pointed out very tactfully by a colleague), segue is pronounced “segway.” And segway is not actually a word at all, though I could have sworn it was, meaning the transition from one news segment to another, and not just a brand name for Gob Bluth’s preferred mode of transport.

The unusual pronunciation is due to the word’s Italian origin, which won’t help you spell or pronounce it at all in English, world’s trickiest language.

Confession booth: I’m a bad blogger

There it is. I’m going to open up. Sort of. No, I’m going to try. I consume too much media and write too little of it. On a daily basis, I cruise a slew of mostly local media sources – CBC News, the Straight, Scout Mag – with frequent stopovers in Facebook and Yelp, and an occasional dip into Yahoo Screen to get my daily fix of Burning Love.

And I have to stop. Because comments are killing me. Sometimes I merely scan the article itself, then read the comments in detail. With the exception of The Tyee’s rather erudite community, most comments that people leave are just mean. Mean, small-minded, petty, pointless and often useless. Whatever the topic of the article or video is, there is someone who will take the time to tell us how they hate that thing. Article about how someone pulled themselves out of debt? Comments criticize how they did it, or tell us about how they think people buy too much useless stuff. News about Facebook? Commenters will usually enlighten us about how useless they find Facebook. (Or if it’s about TV, people come in droves to tell us how they don’t watch TV. Thanks. Good for you.) And my very favourite head-shaker is those who watch videos clearly labelled “stand-up” or “comedy” and then proceed to leave comments about how wrong the comic is or how the video “sucks.”

The stupid blind vitriol that fuels so much of the Internet is killing me. It really is toxic. Is everyone stupid? I think I understand the motivation behind all the meanness: people want to be heard. There’s a world full of chatter and so they’re shouting. Me! Me! Me! Over here! And the quickest way to get others to listen is to push their emotional buttons. Well, I’m (unladylike adjective here) exhausted of the name-calling, the anecdotal expertise, the political categorizing, the stereotyping, and the way it riles me up, invades my brain, and kills the creative drive.

Everyone wants to talk and no one wants to listen. Everyone says “How are you?” then tunes out the answer and then uses whatever you said as a segway into what they wanted to say. Listening isn’t sexy. Your stories are boring. That’s why we pay certain people to do it for us. Or marry them so they’re forced to lend an ear during commercial breaks, at least. Those comments on the Internet, too, are not there to add to any conversation. They’re just people having their say, reacting to whatever has been put in front of them. Negative, negative, negative – to change, to things that threaten our beliefs, to new ideas. It’s exhausting, trying to process all that.

Who cares?, you say, if you’ve gotten this far (Hi!). If it bothers you, don’t read it! In advance, thanks for the advice, Captain Obvious. I am going to try to stop, but it’s going to be hard. I’ve always loved reading opinion columns, the letters section of the paper, rants and raves, advice columns. I love learning about what people think. I love a good conversation or argument about ideas (in person). Up to a point – I am an introvert and usually need time to charge my batteries after an intense talk or social event or heated forum thread – anywhere and anytime too much information or emotion is coming in from other people. And the online, ongoing nattering of the world wide peanut gallery is getting me down.

And with the amazing, interactive power that all of our communications technology holds and all that goes into designing and making our magic boxes called computers and smartphones, is mean commenting really what we do with it? Bash strangers? Complain about things we had no hand in creating? (And I don’t even spend much time with Youtube comments.) I know there’s a whole positive world out there on the Interwebz, but at the moment, it’s clouded in a veil of “Your [sic] an idiot” level interaction and I am having trouble seeing it, much less breaking through to create, not hate.

This is an attempt to break with the toxic chatter, and to shake off the paralysis it has left me in. This is a writing blog, after all, and you should know why it’s hard to write for the internet. It’s a loud place, full of unpredictable reactions – not the safest place for a writer. It’s not that I’m some delicate flower like a golfer needing silence and shushers. In fact, I would predict this post to garner cricket chirps at worst and some amusing comment spam at best. Interactivity is good. Communication is what I crave. Real live human beings reading these words and talking back to me is the goshdamn thrillingest thing I can imagine.

I think sometimes one person can change the world, but I’m not going to try to be that person. Mean comments will likely continue, because we can make them so easily and the instinct to shout to be heard is never going away. However rational we think ourselves, we’re bags of emotionally charged water and our opinions spill out. So whatever anyone else spews about bike lanes or bad dog breeds or generation X vs Y vs millenials or vegan restaurants or kids in coffee shops or a million topics that are seemingly up for debate, it’s all too easy to get sucked in and then get riled up enough to jump in, all mouth and fingers. Avoiding all that emotional push-buttonery takes strength.

Can I move the mob in a more positive direction? Perhaps. Can I be one less torch n pitchfork in the crowd? Definitely. Can I be a witty little light, an amusing critic, a careful observer, a funny sidekick? Yes. And so can you!

Very few of the online peanut gallery could ever dream of being as witty and endearing as the Muppet Show’s resident critics, Statler and Waldorf.

Bonus: Other people who said funny and useful things about comments

Editor’s eats: Swedish meatballs

The European horsemeat scandal got a little too close to home with the news that Swedish meatballs sold at IKEA stores in Europe were possibly tainted with some off-label, undeclared horsey meat. The stores on this side of the pond were quick to pipe up that their supplier is in the U.S., but with all the recent beef recalls, can it really be trusted?

So it’s back to making my own. Not that I ever really stopped. My late Grandma’s Swedish meatballs blow any processed products out of the water. She always made them for special occasions. Her meatballs are so good that when they were mentioned in her eulogy, the crowd murmured a collective “Yum!”

Recipes are also one of my favourite things to edit, so I am happy to share this special family one. I am lucky enough to have a supply of excellent beef from my uncle’s ranch, and I recommend that you seek out some locally raised and processed beef from your local farmers’ market or butcher for these. I don’t pretend my meatballs are anywhere near as good as Grandma’s, but family members who’ve eaten both say they’re pretty darn close.

Swedish meatballs

Jump for the recipe! Continue reading

8 New and Necessary Punctuation Marks

The word nerds in my Internet circle were buzzing last week about this College Humor article about eight new punctuation marks we could really use. (I’m always late to the meme party.) If you, like me, would like to actually start using sarcastises and mockwotation marks, you can! Scroll down to the end of the article, and you can download the package and install on your very own computer! Move over and make room, Interrobang!

The easy way to avoid bias in your writing

I was editing an article recently, and something about it was bugging me. I thought about it and then I realized that it was the word “the” in front of certain words to describe certain groups of people: for example, “the elderly,” “the mentally ill,” etc.

None of these terms are particularly offensive, but by pointing toward these terms with the definite article “the,” a little bit of bias is subtly betrayed. Bias is not necessarily a bad thing; we all have it because we all have a point of view that is informed by our relative position in society and who we consider to be in our in group or out group. (I just used my Anthropology degree there. Yay.) Even if we are careful with the words we choose, a little bit of “the” can make a quality or condition define and group people into the category of being outside of our in group (which in anthropology is called “othering”).

So, look out for “the.” Have you used it to describe a group of people? If you have, consider revising.

For example, instead of ______, choose ______:

  • the elderly  >  elderly people, senior citizens, seniors
  • the mentally ill  >  people with mental illness
  • the disabled  >  people with disabilities

It’s a subtle change, but it puts the person first, rather than the person’s state of being. It may feel a little PC – and who hasn’t gotten frustrated with trying to keep up with changes in preferred terminology that people in our multifaceted society may prefer – and add an extra word or two, but it’s one more way to ensure our words don’t define others by their condition.

E-books for the ladies of the world

The other day on the train, a woman across the aisle dropped her book, and at a glance, you could tell it was of the 50 Shades genre. As she scrambled to pick it up, I thought, that’s what e-readers are for – keeping your private lady reading private – even in public.

Thank you and Happy New Year

Will Edit for Food has now ended, but I’d just like to thank everyone who supported the project – whether by tweeting it out, making sure to donate to the local food bank this Christmas season, or by bringing me some editing to do in exchange for a donation!

Together we raised $270 for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank – which will buy about $800 worth of food for hungry people.

Thank you, and have a very Happy New Year in 2013.

Old Style Cash Register and Canned Goods in a Butcher Shop in New Ulm, Minnesota ..., 10/1974

Photo: US National Archives and Records Administration (via Flickr)

It came from the Internet: the Personal Assistant scam

Some of my favourite jobs have come via Craigslist, but it seems there’s yet another scam for potential jobseekers to be wary of: the Personal Assistant scam. Basically, the scammer advertises a generic sounding job, then sends a response to applicants claiming to be some sort of successful businessperson who is out of the country or what have you, and in need of an assistant to receive payments or packages for them, along with other admin tasks. In another variation, they are “hiring” a caregiver for a relative who is in the local area who needs an apartment or other arrangements set up.

Then, like many scams of this nature, the supposed employer asks for personal and financial information, sends Western Union money transfers to be processed through one’s own bank account, i.e., they send a lot of money and the target is supposed to deduct their cut and send along some other portion, but of course it’s all a big fraud. Here are some other flags to watch for.

I find this an especially insidious twist on the classic Nigerian scam, as it preys not on greed, but on someone’s genuine desire for a job. Not to mention the loss of time it takes to send a resume and prepare that cover letter, which I sincerely hope, if you ever fall prey to this scam, is all it costs you.

 

maikopunk:

The Oxford English Dictionary was arguably the first example of a work created by “crowdsourcing.” As I learned from Simon Winchester’s book, the Professor and the Madman, on the relationship between the editor of the OED and one of his most enthusiastic amateur contributors, the dictionary was created through both mass collaboration and meticulous editing. And now, in a major update, they’re doing it again. *Dusts off research hat …

Originally posted on West Coast Editor:

The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary want your help in tracing the history of particular English words and phrases.

What’s old is new again. In 1859, the British Philological Society launched an appeal to the British and American public “to assist in collecting the raw materials for the work, these materials consisting of quotations illustrating the use of English words by all writers of all ages and in all senses, each quotation being made on a uniform plan on a half-sheet of notepaper, that they might in due course be arranged and classified alphabetically and by meanings.” The society’s goal was to create a new dictionary “worthy of the English Language and of the present state of Philological Science.” (The Surgeon of Crowthorne, Simon Winchester, 1998)

The result, after 50 years of toil and tens of thousands of quotation slips? The Oxford English Dictionary.

The philologists…

View original 195 more words

Will Edit for Food

For donations to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, that is! Because being a starving freelancer is a myth, but 25,000 hungry people (almost half of them children) going to food banks weekly is a reality.

So, for one month (from November 15 to December 15, 2012), I’m offering my editing services in exchange for donations to the food bank. Continue reading