So, a few months ago, after an unfortunate EFM employment episode, I decided my time at this post would be better spent polishing up my professional skills. To that end, I volunteered to edit a book, and at the same time, signed up for a professional editing course. This is a series of five online classes from University of California at Berkeley that when completed, result in an editing certificate.
The point is not so much the certificate, however, as to finally learn all that grammar stuff that I slept through three decades ago in high school!
I have been writing, and even editing, for years now, but the sad fact is, I have been totally winging it. In school, I was a natural whiz at spelling, thanks to strong visual/spatial skills, and had read so much that I was able to produce acceptable written work “by ear,” so to speak. So, I got lazy, and stayed that way. Mostly, my ignorance hasn’t mattered much (even in my day job as a content manager) but I know that if I continue to pursue writing and editing work, it will come back to bite me on the patootie eventually.
Heck, I even studied four foreign languages (and more or less mastered one) while having no idea how to diagram a sentence! I will say, though, that with German those chickens have come home to roost. You can’t just learn some vocabulary and verb conjugations then start yakking right away like you can with a romance language. German is downright infested with grammar, adding layers of it to what ought to be perfectly simple sentences just because them Germans sure likes their rules. Oy.
Now in my forties, I am finally being schooled. The first course, Grammar, Mechanics and Usage for Editors, is about to kill me, I swear. I just don’t have this kind of brain! I must have been dropped on my head as a kid. Math was always difficult for me. Chemistry—especially balancing equations—was practically impossible. I remember a friend trying to teach me chemical equations in high school and eventually banging his head on a locker because he just couldn’t believe that I could be an obviously intelligent person and still not get it.
So, for the first assignment in this class, I studied really hard, made up flash cards and everything and got an 81. I was reasonably pleased with that, then had a major flashback to high school when I saw the teacher’s comment: “You can do better, Kelly.”
Oh well, unlike in high school, no one will ever see these grades but me. So, I’m just going to keep plugging away and learn what I can, because after all, I’m paying for the privilege, right?
And I have all this help! Our new kitten, Taz, is way into keyboards, typing fingers, cursors moving across screens, and wanting to be picked up about 975 times per day. Fortunately, he really loves this little basket on my desk. If I put on some country music and stay very still, he will eventually drop off for a while…shhhhhh….