A side effect of grading written work, a couple hundred pages every semester, is that I now see every typo, misspelling, and obvious grammatical error I pass in the world. I can sense when puffed-up language has been utilized within 100 feet.
Unless it’s something I’ve written.
It’s more gypsy curse than professional skill.
And it works more by intuition than mechanical knowledge.
That’s why I buy books like How to Write a Sentence, On Writing Well, and why I keep Eats, Shoots and Leaves, a gift from my first manager at my first job out of school, at my desk at work. The hard and fast rules of writing are contained within.
I haven’t read any of them. I’m not sure I’ve cracked the spine of Eats Shoots and Leaves.
Now there’s a new book on writing coming out, Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. Written by Benjamin Dreyer, Twitter user, and copy editor at Random House, people who care about this sort of thing are very excited.
I’ve just preordered it.
And I’m pre-disappointed in myself for not reading it.