Friday, April 17, 2015

P: Proofreaders and Editors

As I stood in the long, slowly moving line at Seattle University waiting to have Brian Doyle sign my book, a woman behind me expressed her impatience at the time passing. Another woman wanted to redirect where the line meandered. I tried to be Zen about all this as Doyle took a few minutes to connect and listen to each individual who approached him.

And I scanned through the Book of Uncommon Prayer while waiting, I found this one. When I finally got up to the front of the line, I outed myself as a writer and editor and we fist bumped. Only an editor truly understands what it's like to be an editor (or proofreader).

Prayer for Proofreaders (and Editors*)

For your eyesight and your patience, that neither runs out in this lifetime, even though you have to correct the word hopefully used at the opening of a sentence for the one-thousandth time, but who's bitter?

For your meticulous care, that it not turn into mania, and leave you mumbling and gibbering as you walk along the street correcting the names on people's mailboxes and correcting the typos in the newspaper in the office break room and going over old love letters from your wife and making suggested changes in red ink in the margins and then offering them to her for possible updating.

For attentiveness to clarity that does not entail wholesale slashing and cutting of entire sections and passages of manuscripts because they do not rise to the level of Robert Louis Stevenson's prose, because who could?

For a bemused amusement rather than apoplectic fury when writers do not use the serial comma, or refer to their own experience as ostensible proof and evidence for a thesis, or write nothing but self-absorbed muck, or fawning essays about their satanic cats, or endless lunatic screeds proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was Australian.

We pray that they never forget that their work finally is for clarity between writer and reader, and that clarity is a blessing, as it brings us closer each to each; which is another aspect of the endless word that is Your love. And so: amen.

Here's more information on why I chose this focus for the A to Z, and you can read all my 2015 A to Z posts here. I hope you enjoy the celebrations of the miracle and muddle of the ordinary! 

You can buy the book at Brian's favorite local bookstore, Broadway Books, at Powell's Books, or on AmazonBrian's work is used with permission of Ave Maria Press.


  1. Biggest pet peeve is bad grammar! Cannot stress the importance of proofreading enough.

  2. That one is cute. I hope some of them see this!
    Play off the Page