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January 16, 2006

Why is revising online a pleasure where once revision — on paper — was something onerous?


I've noticed it for years but only now really thought about it.

I read my work here many, many times before I'm satisfied with it and click "publish."

Even then mistakes still make it by what I hope is my gimlet eye.

I cannot recall a day in which I did not find at least one error in the first published version of bookofjoe.

Most days two or three posts contain mistakes; on some days most do.

99% of the time I fix them before anyone else mentions them although I'm sure many readers notice but can't be bothered to give me a holler.

I don't blame you one bit: if I can't deliver a flawless product 100% of the time, something for which, let's face it, you're paying a very steep price, then I simply am not worthy of your trade.

I don't mind going back over and over and over again through a post, checking punctuation, spelling, meaning, links, anything and everything.

Often I will reread and rewrite and revise a post 10 times — or more — before it's done.

Compare this to my behavior when I was in school.

From junior high on, I absolutely hated having to reread my work and then revise it.

I tried whenever possible to get it right the first time so it wasn't necessary to do anything before handing it in.

Now, maybe it's the ease of revising with a computer vs. pen and paper or a typewriter that makes it so much less painful nowadays.

If I had to create bookofjoe with those abandoned tools I'd probably not enjoy it much at all; in fact, I wouldn't even bother.

So not only do computers enable new capabilities but, in my case at least, they engender new attitudes about old tasks.

January 16, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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When I'm writing something that I need to be close to perfect (laugh here), I tend to get eyelock really easily in the going over and correcting stage. That is to say, I'm approaching the "perfecting" (laugh here) process with such grisly determination that I will tend to skip over the most obvious and sometimes astoundingly blockheaded goof-ups with breathtaking incompetence. When things get to that point I usually have to put it away for hours (or days) and come back to it to be able to see that my masterpiece is deeply flawed. It's humbling.

Speaking of mistake making, I once heard James Levine in a television interview singing the praises (completely deserved) of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He was illustrating just how good they were, and he said suppose each player made ONE mistake in the course of a regular opera performance - that would be one hundred mistakes, and everyone would hear them. But they play for HOURS in the case of a really lengthy opera like "Parsifal" and they NEVER make mistakes.

Amazing, isn't it?

Posted by: Flutist | Jan 16, 2006 1:07:34 PM

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