I read a lot of books and magazines, many of which are self-published. As I have always told my students and my own children, you can always glean something from a work, even one in which you do not particularly care for, one which does not immediately engross you and cause you to stay up at all hours of the night.
You are probably thinking, “Why would I continue reading said work which does not capture my attention?” The answer is simple . . . a reader, in my opinion, learns more about himself or herself by acknowledging what calls to him or her within the pages and, in the same manner, what deters one’s reading.
For me, spelling errors and grammatical errors make me wince which, in turn, leads to heart palpitations. The rules set in place for proper grammar and spelling are black and white much like mathematics. So, if in doubt, simply check the rule out . . . Years ago, I would say, “Look it up in a dictionary, make use of a thesaurus, have a quality grammar book handy (I still have the edition my dad used years ago as a young student), and most importantly, revise.” Now I say, “Google it!” At the very least and for the love of humanity, “Google it already!”
So, with the ease of the use of Google, why don’t people take the time to revise in order to present the cleanest copy possible? I find myself often curled into a metaphorical fetal position asking the question, “Why?” over and over again, much like Nancy Kerrigan did after being struck in the knee by a tire iron, after reading an error-riddled work.
I recently purchased Life’s 100 Women Who Changed the World. Thinking this would be an excellent resource for use with my Girl Scouts promoting the ideal Girls Can Do Anything, I was anxious to preview this work and had high expectations based on the reputation of the magazine alone.
Thus, I was horrified to read about Impressionist painter Mary Cassat’s “1800 self-portrait” (35) when she was not born until 1844. In addition, I was surprised to learn Amelia Earhart disappeared “July 3, 1937 . . . over the Pacific” (59), but according to Life did not die until 1939. How is this possible? Did someone (gasp) fail to revise?
What I do know is that I will continue to revise and continue advocating for revision in all writing, a feat which can be accomplished by all. We may not all have the physical capabilities to be a professional basketball player or the intellectual prowess to research a cure for cancer, but every one of us has within us the power to revise.