Scroll up. See that paragraph symbol in front of my blog title? I love that. My lifelong affair with typesetting, editing tools, typefaces, printers’ ink and trays of type goes back to high school. Even the “typewriter look” of this text makes me smile.
My most recent post, “Leave my blankie alone,” (you can read it here) started with a quotation set above the lead paragraph. I didn’t know until I previewed the draft that the default was a giant stylized mark at the front end only. That blatant symbol said, “I’m not gonna close this with a mirror image of myself because I am a “HONKIN’ BIG QUOTATION MARK, and I don’t hafta if I don’t wanna.”
Love typography with attitude.
Love punctuation? Not so much. I confess I’m a fickle comma user. I hook them around what I perceive are the right places the way a stripper drapes herself with feather boas. I probably failed comma usage in Miss Mann’s senior English class. She urged us to keep the textbook, McGraw-Hill Handbook of English (1952), for future use, so I did. The twenty-eight pages about commas are well-worn.
On the other hand, I’m miserly and judicious with exclamation points, but a bit loose with dashes to set off appositive asides mid-sentence. And ellipses are fun, those triplet dots that indicate words not seen, or that let your words gaze off the page as you write … .
Don’t over-think this information.
The designer-described “favorite notebook” look of my site, with its pale blue lines and faded red rules down the margins, speaks to me. It suggests writing in the most basic form: pad of paper; pencil. Such subtle touches thrill me beyond, well, beyond words.
Old typewriters sang to me with their satisfying sharp-edged clack clack clack, rumble, slam, ding. And there was something about the inherent resilient sturdiness of those old machines, their bold industrial heft. A key would say, “Press me and I’ll make that skinny striker arm give you an e, or an E.” An early 1900s Underwood #5 typewriter is lurking behind me right now. Sadly, its E is long gone.
Personal computers — I’d sooner cut off my left hand than give up my Mac — have changed the “job” of writing in a way that adds dimension to the craft because, in many cases, we are writer, editor, and typesetter. Not necessarily a good thing. If it were possible, I’d red-pencil changes the way Miss Mann, did. Wordy, I’d write in the margin.
In “How old is too old to blog,” (read it here), I said: “The thought of writing on the site terrifies me. What if I accidentally posted it before all the t’s and i’s were crossed and dotted, the spelling checked? … I will continue to write in Word, and will copy and paste my posts into my waiting site … .” I said what I meant and meant what I said, as Miss Mann preached, but I changed my tune quickly. After just three posts, I started writing directly onto the blank page, and now I edit as I go.
Piece. Of. Cake.
I am as addicted to editing as some people are to crosswords. I spend hours tweaking a sentence or searching for the perfect word. A whole afternoon will pass, me plastered to the computer screen like a moth to a light bulb, and all I’ve done is change one word for another. It is possible, I’ve discovered, to edit after a post is published. Recently I found a miniscule error that screamed at me like a zit on prom night. Quick, delete! Update! Whew.
Even with the advantages my computer provides — seeing my words on the virtual pages in front of me right now — I still have to print them and hold the paper in my hands before I’m confident that my words really say what I meant them to say. The pages must look right too, no extra spaces, lines that break awkwardly, or annoying repetition.
I don’t expect anyone to understand.