I absolutely love my job as a copy editor, and not just because I get to work from home (or from anywhere that has an Internet connection), but because I work with some of the best people I know. And because I get to fix stuff, and stew over stuff, and look up stuff to see how other people are doing (or writing, or saying) that stuff.
Yes, I’ll admit, sometimes it’s tedious. Like when I have to remove extra spaces because my coworkers are reluctant to adhere to our one space after punctuation style (but I still love them, and I don’t judge). But 99% of the time it’s fun, I get to flex my grammar muscles, and I get stymied by and also learn something every day.
Like today. I had to do some searching to see how the word “flip-flops” should be used. Hyphen? No hyphen? It’s not in my own product style guide so I didn’t have precedence. So I googled “flip flop hyphenate” and came across a Q&A article in the Washington Post* with a guy I’ve followed pretty much since the Internet showed up at the publishing company where I was working as a writer at the time. I admit it, I’ve had a grammar crush on Bill Walsh for 21 years. He’s quippy. He’s a bit flippant, but not condescending. He doesn’t stew over the rules. Be still my heart.
I love grammar. I love its conventions and rules, but I also love how it’s never static, and shifts in sometimes surprising ways. I love the things I dislike about it, even, like acceptance of certain usages that annoy me. I try, I really do try, not to be a snob about it because I am wrong
sometimes often and I’m certain there are typos and incorrect usages in my own work. Feel free to point them out, even, if you’re so inclined. But ask me something about grammar, or usage, or style, or punctuation, and I will totally be in my element searching for an answer for you.
I’m smart enough to know there’s a lot I don’t know. So I’ll rely on the style books and websites like Bill’s and Common Errors (another favorite) to keep my writers sounding like the knowledgeable and intelligent people they are. Even if the grammar and usage bits only matter to me and a handful of other people.
*The article didn’t answer my question about hyphenating or not hyphenating flip-flop, although I opted for the hyphen based on other resources. And I was using flip-flop as in the footwear, not as in to be wishy-washy (ack! hyphen?) or indecisive, in case you were wondering (because you might be like me and wonder about these things). Or, more accurately, I think anyway, to change one’s mind. See? There’s a lot going on here. But aren’t we having fun?