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December 11, 2012

A danger of being a copyeditor

Yuga Igarashi on the Granta blog:

There is a danger to copy-editing. You start to read in a different way. You start to see the sentence as machinery. You focus on the gears and levers that connect words to one another; you hunt for the wayward semicolon, the unintentionally ambiguous phrase, the clunky repeated word. You even hope they appear, so you can kill them. You see them when they’re not even there, because you relish slashing your pen across the paper. It gets a little twisted.

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Michael Greenspan

I've done copyediting, and she's right. I've also read/heard about similar laments from film editors (when watching movies all they see is cut, cut, cut) and soldiers (they can't help viewing terrain in terms of military strategy).

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