Kottke on Writing

Stumbled across this footnote(!) to a Jason Kottke post about a famous copy editor:

This is why, when anyone asks me what I do for a living, the answer is never "writer". Writing for me is a brute-force operation; I'll use whatever is necessary to make it sound like I'm talking with you in person. (Wait, is a semicolon appropriate there? Should I have used "as though" instead of "like"? Who gives a shit!) I use too many commas (but often not between multiple adjectives in front of nouns), too many "I"s, too many "that"s (OMG, the thats), too many weirdo pacing mechanisms like ellipses, dashes, & parentheses, mix tenses, overuse the passive voice, and place unquoted periods and commas outside quotation marks like the Brits, although I was doing it before I learned they did because it just seemed to make sense. So, anyway, hi, I'm not a writer...who writes a lot.

It's like he was looking directly at me while I was writing, and said, "oh, so that's what you're going for.  Yeah, me too." 

In a footnote.  Bloody hell.  I have work to do.

This article was updated on May 9, 2023

David F