It seems some editors have admitted to canning a complete manuscript sent to them because they found a “technical” (grammatical) error on the first page!…Damn! Christ, in his second coming, wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving another crucifixion with these excessively puckered wordsmiths.
I feel that correcting these type of technical, grammatical errors is actually part of the goddamned editors job. Hell, editors that judge the whole manuscript content based on an incorrect word structure or phrasing mistake (of which, by the way, all the past, great authors were guilty) are simply lousy at their perceived function in life.
Learn the F**king Rules!
I was delighted to see the New York Times article last week about Johnny Temple’s success with Go the F*ck to Sleep. In this era of groupthink at the large publishers, it’s cause for celebration when a small house such as Akashic Books not only succeeds with a bold bet, but even manages to hang on to the property when the corporate sharks circle. Alas, my delight turned to consternation when I read the verse quoted in the article.
“The cats nestle close to their kittens,
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear.
Please go the ____ to sleep.”
Even my Word program, as I typed the above, knows that the second line should read “The lambs have lain down with the sheep.” Such a mistake, with a word whose meter and rhyme is incidental in the line, in poetry!
In my many years as an editor, the most frequent lesson I’ve had to impart to writers — from fledglings to award winners to mega-bestsellers — is about the difference between the transitive verb lay, laid, laid and the intransitive verb lie, lay, lain. Some authors get it; some never do, even after eight or nine books. That’s why there are editors and copy editors and proofreaders, right?
Where was the editor on Go the F*ck to Sleep? Where was the copy editor, the proofreader? How did that laid slip by them? Isn’t it their job to protect the writer from such an embarrassing mistake?