Meet the Editor

Some have noticed how my posts, between the moment I hit the publish button and the time you finally get around to reading, have substantially fewer typos.  No, it’s not because I’ve invented a blogging program that cleans up the errant finger poke of an old lawyer.  It’s the kindness of others, upon which I rely.

Whenever some snarky youthful lad would comment that I used the wrong word, spelled something wrong or included (or failed to include) an apostrophe, causing massive pain to his law review editor eyes, I would invite his aid to edit my posts.  Regular readers know that they come at a quick clip, and aside from spellcheck (a generally worthless endeavor but one I use out of habit), I never edit my blawg posts.  No, they are not appellate briefs, and no, they do not receive the attention given to work on behalf of clients.

Despite my invitations, none of my snarky lads ever lifted a finger to help.  However, some others have.  For a while, Jdog would clean up my act.  Ed at Blawg Review would let me know my many errors.  But after Jdog was co-opted into the Obama Administration as First Muse, and Ed took up travel on the professional golf circuit, I was back to where I started, alone and unedited.

To clean up my miserable mess, an angel appeared.  Marilou Auer, renown on twitter as @MarilouTheClerk, felt my pain and anguish.  It started with an email, a few typos corrected.  Since that first email, it’s never been the same.  

Thank you, Marilou.  Thank you for the gift you give me every morning when you let me know what I’ve done poorly and what I can do to do better. 

I asked Marilou to tell me about herself, aside from the excellent taste shown by her preference for the New York Yankees despite living in Virginia Beach, and here’s what she said:

I’ve been a legal secretary, with a few interruptions for other ventures and having two babies in two years, for 35 years or so. I’ve been blessed with some good employers who taught interesting things.

I live in Virginia Beach and am currently not working outside the home but am learning to do virtual-assistant-type work with a friend from another state. I nearly failed English class every year in high school and the one year of college that I attended. My grammar knowledge and spelling ability are a direct result of my Mother’s insistence on speaking correctly and reading to me daily until I was old enough to read for myself. Those were great gifts.

I proofread blogs as a substitute for the morning crossword puzzle. Reading carefully and concentrating gives me the mental wake-up that I need to start the day. I never mean to be insulting when I correct other people’s work, I just like the challenge and am thrilled when somebody welcomes my suggestions. It’s hard for writers to catch everything when they’ve seen their work several times already in the process of writing and editing and rearranging, so I enjoy being that “fresh eye” that even the best writers sometimes need. And I learn something from every post I read. It’s a win-win for both of us.

I’m always a little nervous the first time I send an e-mail to a lawyer with a suggested change. I worry that he might be offended.  There are some who believe a blog post isn’t worth taking the time to correct. I disagree and believe when a lawyer takes the time to write a post for his peers, he should make his post the best it can possibly be. Lawyers never know when their writing is going to be quoted, and a lawyer’s writing reflects the attention to detail with which he can also best serve his clients.

It’s kind of embarrassing to write about myself, but I wanted to be sure to say that I didn’t mean to act as if I think I know it all when it comes to spelling and grammar; I just like proofreading! The things that I suggest for correction are things that anybody would find; it’s just that I take the time to make the suggestion instead of just ignoring the error. And if just one person reads to their kid more, my job is done for the day!!

If you want any personal stuff, I have three daughters who are all doing well as adults, and I have a two-week-old grandson who has been a life-changer for me in a number of ways. I’m working on things that most people are working on, including losing weight, getting more exercise, finding mental challenges, and downsizing my possessions!

And I like you proofreading my stuff.  I’m very glad it’s a win for you, because it most assuredly is a win for me. 

22 comments on “Meet the Editor

  1. SHG

    She’s management, so I’m splitting profits with her 60-40.  It doesn’t matter which of us gets the 60%.

  2. Rick Horowitz

    Marilou is pretty incredible. It’s hard for me to believe some people actually get irritated with her for her free advice!

    I’m glad you wrote this. I should have done it.

  3. Jdog

    Very, very cool.

    Orthoyouknowwhat . . . a writer proofing his own stuff is analogous to a lawyer representing himself. (The stakes are higher, of course. Writing is forever; legal mistakes can only cost money, land people in prison or strapped to a gurney when they wouldn’t otherwise be. Gotta keep a sense of proportion.)

    The best proofreaders (and, for that matter, copyeditors) I know are a lot like Marilou; it’s not just a job, but a passion, in getting it right, while respecting the ownership of the words.

  4. Thorne

    “Ownership of the words?”

    That generally belongs to the publisher, not the author.

    If you’re an attorney and you write a client alert for your firm, those aren’t your words; they’re the firm’s.

    Too many attorneys hold on to bad prose too tightly. In many cases, they’d rather be wrong than made to look their best.

    A tough crowd to please . . .

  5. SHG

    Let’s chill on the crass self-promotional opportunity here.  This isn’t about Thorne trying to drum some business by talking about stuff that has nothing whatsoever to do with the post. 

    Got it?

  6. SHG

    This is a post thanking Marilou.  Notice anything about your comments that has anything to do with the post?  Neither do I. 

  7. Thorne

    Did you forget to take your medications this morning?

    [Note to Thorne: See how much fun it is to have the password?]

  8. Thorne

    Well . . . you’ve gone a step too far this time. My wife just looked in the office and found me crying inconsolably. She asked what happened, and I told her you called me a fool for talking about something Jdog brought up. So she reviewed the comments, saw what you did to mine, and then stormed out of the office in a huff.

    She’s pissed, and when she gets pissed . . . . Let me just put it like this — you’re in some deep doo doo, buddy.

    (You’ve probably never even heard of her cousin, Bruno, who just happens to live near you. He’s been out of prison for three weeks now, and they say he’s itching to go back. You better watch yours (your back that is)!)

  9. SHG

    Now there’s the Thorne we know and love.  Sorry that I made you cry.  And I happen to know Bruno.  He wanted to retain me but didn’t have the money.  Sorry that things didn’t work out too well for him, considering that he went to prison for having excessively tinted windows on his Gremlin.

  10. Dan

    Scott, please permit a certain number of weirdos and/or self promoters to comment so that the rest of us can continue to enjoy exchanges like this.

  11. Jeena Belil

    You are a lucky man to have Marilou and her team of trusty hamsters assisting you every morning!

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