As you all know – having committed the tedium that-is-my-life-to memory – I started some postgraduate study last year. I kicked off with three subjects which was probably a bit ambitious given it’d been over 20 years since I’d completed my previous Masters.
Anyhoo, I’m studying writing and literature so it’s kinda perfect given the direction my life has taken and I guess you’d say I’m following my passion. Albeit at $2750 per subject.
I’ve talked on social media however about the down-side… that I’m thinking too much about writing. Not that I’m obsessed with writing, in fact I’m not writing. Rather, I’m overthinking about how I write. It was bad enough when I was doing feature writing last semester (definitely my passion) but this semester I’m doing an editing subject and… It. Is. Killing. Me.
I always liked English classes at school. Obviously I’ve always been an avid reader and was a tad obsessive about spelling tests as a kid, but I was also educated in the era in which we studied everything from adverbs to adjectival clauses. And the like. And I knew and remembered it all.
Of course, having left high school 35 years ago I now realise I’ve forgotten so much. And a lot has changed. The Australian Government released a new Style Manual last year and it has edgy and controversial suggestions like, writing the number for any numeral over one (it used to be 10 and above) and ditching long ’em-dashes’ (long dashes with no space either side) and sticking to spaced en-dashes.
I know you’ve just nodded off there but I need to bloody know this stuff for this subject and it’s killing me.
Regular readers know I write informally. I mean, I try to be grammatically correct but I use a lot of dashes and hyphens (different things by the way) and am an over-user of semicolons. And just then, my fingers paused trying to decide if semicolon was one word or hyphenated (semi-colon)… Hmmmm…. what’s that rule about compound nouns or adjectives and nouns?
I’ve read before about debate in the creative writing arena; (hmmm… semicolon or comma?) suggesting it’s actually a disadvantage for those wanting to write to study writing academically. As if creativity is drilled out of them or leaks somehow as they focus on theory rather than the art.
And that’s kinda how I’m feeling. I’m starting to think too much about how I’m writing rather than what I’m writing. (And ugh, should I have put a comma before rather in that sentence?)
Of course the other challenging thing is that editing is subjective so – though there are manuals and guides – clients, publishers and audiences have their own preferences.
As an aside, I think I’ve realised my passion is structural or developmental editing which is more about the plotting or structure of a book than the punctuation and grammar. Although I do love a sentence with a good iambic pentameter.
It’d be easy to say this is my perfectionist self rearing it’s ugly head but given I’m supposedly learning this stuff, shouldn’t I be putting it into action? What’s the best excuse you come up with not to do something?