I feel a bit too much like Polonius when I write my blog posts sometimes. I go on a lot. And while this blog is kind of primarily for me to get my thoughts out and so it's not such a big deal if I'm occasionally a bit long winded for other people's taste, I feel like I have failed my unknown number of possible readers with my post about Iolanthe yesterday. Not because it was long, but because I didn't really say that much. This is supposed to be me getting my thoughts out, but I wasn't, I ended up just summarising the show. Now, there were some important thoughts in there, which definitely needed to be mentioned; like the innuendos, and the fact that the two lords are clearly gay for each other. But I didn't need to go through every single scene.
I realised that I was having this problem, while writing the post, but for some reason I didn't do anything about it. When I realised, I should have then gone back and edited the post. Cut out the superfluous bits to make more room for me to be weird at people. Which brings me neatly to the subject of editing.
Sticking to staged shows, I've heard the opinion voiced (Or possibly read it, I don't remember) that writers should not be allowed to direct their own shows, because they're bad at cutting things, and sometimes things need to be cut. This is a general thing, it may well take an outside observer to see what needs to be changed. Not necessarily, but often. Certainly self-editing is more difficult than editing something by someone else.
I myself find I'm both good and bad at self-editing. I self-edit quite a lot while I'm writing something, I'll go back and repeatedly rewrite a sentence, rearrange a paragraph, whatever, until I feel happy with it. But once I have a finished work, I find it hard to change anything. I'll look through it in an attempt to edit it, but tend to just leave it as it is.
Although, that said, if I leave it for maybe a month, then look over it, I find it easier, probably because I'm not so close to it. Certainly I've found this when arranging songs for choir - I'll put together an arrangement and be pretty happy with it. Then about a month later I'll look through it and think "Why did I do this? How did I ever think this was a good idea? OK, clearly I just got a bit carried away there..." and so on. Sometimes this happens with an unfinished arrangement as well. If I've gotten stuck with an arrangement, I may leave it for a while, then when I want to continue it I'll listen to what I've already done to get myself back in the right frame of mind, and find that it's not as good as I thought it was.
I'm pretty sure I've done that with every vocal arrangement I've ever done. Oh, except for A Short Song About Shoes.
Some people seem not to have any ability to self-edit at times. Maybe not consistently, all the time, but sometimes. There's a problem which I've observed in a few things I've read, where it seems the writer has had a decent, interesting idea, but then not put any additional effort in. So the idea ends up being irrelevant, and therefore superfluous; or it ends up evoking the wrong reaction for some reason, or a myriad other possible problems. Because just shoving an idea directly into something is fine for a first draft, say, but then before you reach the final version which you're going to publish, however you're going to publish it, you should've then worked more on the idea to ensure it works as you intended.
Of course, this problem is more common in works published on the internet, since there's no editing process to go through, and often they have a fairly rapid schedule. This is not necessarily an excuse, however, because the whole point is that it's all under the control of the writer, and if they have such problems, they should take steps to avoid them. Of course, some internet content may also lack direct feedback, reviews and the like, so they may not necessarily realise the issues, and so the problems get institutionalised.
If anyone's wondering, I do have a particular work in mind. However I'm not going to tell you what it is, because if you don't know it, you should count yourself lucky. The only followers of this comic I know follow it purely to mock its failings and sometimes indulge in collaborative efforts to try and make the canonical events make sense (A daunting task). Also possibly out of a sense of morbid curiosity. Decent ideas, terrible execution most of the time. It has occasionally been theorised that actually the writer is just trolling us all by deliberately making it this bad, but that's probably not the case.
Onto more cheerful subjects! Related to editing is proofreading. They're both part of the whole process that ensures a work will be properly readable. I feel the world suffers at times from having insufficient proofreaders. Now while my self-editting may be variable, my self-proofreading is very good. A handy side effect of the fact I can take a while to get my thoughts in order before writing something is that while I'm thinking I may look at what I've already written, and then I notice the typos. Of which there are annoyingly many, but not actually that many. Especially annoying is that I have actually on occasion caught myself typing the wrong homophone, like their/they're. I have no idea why! I know the difference perfectly well, and it's something which really annoys me when other people do it wrong, and possibly don't even care that they're doing it wrong. But sometimes I do it wrong for no readily apparent reason. Fortunately I'm pretty sure every time that's happened I've caught it before hitting the 'submit post' button.
I can get a bit worked up, even mildly obsessive, about proper SPG. To the point that on the Playground, I tend to correct other people's SPG when I quote their posts. I don't point out the errors usually, I just fix them in the quote. I have also been known to change American spelling to British spelling, which I really shouldn't do, but if I'm already altering the quote I can't help it because it just bothers me. Especially when people leave the s off the end of 'maths'.
Anyway, like I said. World suffers from lack of proofreaders. An obvious example of this is, as observed by Professor Sir Terry Pratchett, is the Ven'erable S'ociety of Gre'engr'ocers, who are bound by oath never to put their punctuation in the right place. But it crops up all over. I'm pretty sure there's a website specifically devoted to documenting these sorts of failures. I know I personally have discarded a few job adverts on the grounds that they had spelling mistakes in them. Also one which apparently offered a salary of £0 - £1/annum. I hope that was a typo.
I've never really been able to understand why people have difficulty with this. I remember having an English lesson, in year 10, explaining how to properly use apostrophes. I learned nothing in that lesson which I hadn't already learned 4 years previously, so why was it necessary?
People should care more about their language.
Well, this post is shorter than my others, but given my issues with the last one, that may well be a good thing.