I have always enjoyed writing. The use of words, expressions, phrases… the challenge of trying to find new and different ways to an express an idea. I just love words.
In college and graduate school, I fell that much more in love with writing. I wrote letters, learned to write e-mail, and became fairly proficient at clinical writing in both history and political science.
Then I entered the working world.
I entered a world in which language and grammar didn’t seem to matter that much.
I found myself editing everything that came across my computer screen or that landed on my desk.
Sadly, I found that no one really cared whether I edited reports or not.
Language didn’t matter. I found that people believe it to be completely “okay” to submit a report that is written using language often reserved for spoken communication.
I found myself reading reports and becoming very frustrated. Why couldn’t people just take a few more minutes to write complete sentences? Why couldn’t they remember to use a verb now and again? Why not try and find a better word to describe an action over relying upon the old and overused verbiage?
Frustrated I tell you!
One of my professors at UA who taught Japanese culture required the class to write many papers. She had a list of words that we could not use. Use of such words would result in a 0 on the paper – and she meant it. It was a great challenge!
I often remember her as I read these reports. There are times when I feel like taking this report and sending the different sections back to the author suggesting that each rewrite until it is written correctly!
But of course, I can’t do that.
A team member and I used to spend hours editing the report just for the challenge of having it read correctly. Hours upon hours invested in correcting the language of others.
A few months ago I received a section that was written, and I kid you not, as if it were a text message. Rather than take the time to type “at” the author used “@.” Seriously, is it so much easier to write “@” than “at?” Do we care so little as to the quality of our work?
Throughout the years I have learned to let go – to not stress out about the language. It is okay that the articles aren’t there or that sentences don’t end in periods. Unfortunately, I hate to say this, I have adjusted. It is very difficult to spend hours editing reports that are written so poorly and know that it means nothing. Hours of work; hours of energy; and it doesn’t matter.
Sometimes… just sometimes… I find myself caring. Last week, as I read the report, I felt my blood pressure increasing. I noted all the articles missing and the variety of sentence structures (the kind that look long and complicated and say absolutely nothing). The report called to me to spend hours upon hours revising and editing.
I remained strong. I denied the urge and scanned through the report. I ignored all the missing articles. I refrained from altering sentences. And then I came to it… one of the last statements in the report…”Worked on.” The words jumped out at me begging to be changed. These two simple words that read perfectly fine in context and yet, I don’t like them. I don’t like the way they sit behind the bullet. I don’t like the way they flow in the context of the report.
I highlighted the words to change them and then… I removed the highlight. I couldn’t think of another word or phrase to use.
I saved the report and sent it on… on to the next editor who will go through the same struggles I do.
The words now haunt me as I can’t think of another way of stating the idea… and that is bothersome. What is more bothersome is that no, one, cares!