Posted by on Nov 15, 2006 in editing, grammar, writing | 3 Comments

Erasure and eraser, entrance and enter

There’s a weird thing that happens to writers who rely on computer based spelling assistance. They forget how to spell things.

This week, editing for three different publications, I’ve come across the weirdest word confusions. ‘She scrubbed furiously with the erasure’ for example. Microsoft Word sees nothing wrong with this construction, but I do, and so should a writer who has proofread their own work. Others have been entrance used as a verb in place of enter, high ruler for high roller (quite amusing that one, found in a story set in a backstreet gambling den – it added a flavour of Lord of the Rings to illegal poker and bare-fist fighting) and, bizarrely, ‘she sought the impeachable’. I don’t know what that last writer was trying to say; impossible, imperfect? It’s meant to be a complete sentence and of course it could be sought that has been mangled – or maybe she sought the impeachment? But that makes no sense in the context of the story.

The problem for me in all this, is that, although I like getting paid to edit, I feel too many writers are leaning on Microsoft Word, or editors like me, instead of learning their craft properly.

I’m actually a little sick too, of students who tell me that ‘it’s what editors are there to do’ when I suggest they correct basic errors of spelling and grammar in their work. I know that they stand little chance of getting published with such sloppy attitudes, but it’s depressing to find so many people who desire to be a writer without ever putting in the hours needed to learn the basic tools of the craft.


  1. Nik's Blog
    15th November 2006

    Hi Kay,

    Stumbled across your blog (via a link on Roger Morris’ Plog) and thought I’d say howdy and how much I enjoyed reading it.

    Interestingly (well, for me) I find it frustrating enough when I pick up my own typos and spelling mistakes when proofing, so I can see why it’d get on your nerves, as an editor, twice as much. It is a writer’s job to get the writing bits right, isn’t it?



  2. B.A. Goodjohn
    16th November 2006

    Hey Hon,

    Was Monica Lewinsky the she who was doing the searching for the “impeachable”? 🙂

    Stupid errors light me up, too. But I’m pretty pedantic. I spit flames at splices. Hate them, hate them, hate them.

  3. Linda
    18th November 2006

    Hi, Kay, the comment about “that’s what editors are for” always makes me grit my teeth. Decades ago, editors at publishing houses had that task, but they no longer have the luxury of time to line edit. Writers must learn their craft, just as a carpenter or a plumber must learn their craft. Would we want someone to plumb our house if they were not proficient in their craft? Why would we want to read and consider for publication a story filled with errors that the writer is too lazy to correct?

    Wasn’t it Samuel Johnson who said, “That which is written without effort is generally read without pleasure.”

    Anyway, good for you! Let the lazy writer beware: MS Word does not know what it’s talking about, as my middle school students have found out.


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