Mid-August, I got a request from a Christine at Jisc to write a post for them. I was honoured to be asked and, when she said that it would be needed by mid-September, I thought – no sweat. I’m used to writing something every day so having a month to create a masterpiece should be a piece of cake. I’ve read many articles from that organization and have always appreciated it as a great resource. It was humbling to think that I was asked.
One of the things that Christine mentioned in her message was that she might do a bit of editing but that I would have final approval. I had to smile a bit at that – my normal editing team only lets me know after I’ve published my post that I’ve embarrassed myself with some dumb thing.
So, I went about doing the things that I think great writers do – research my topics, largely based on my own blog thoughts and those that I admire, and brainstormed them into a Google Document so that I could edit them as the mood hits. Like any student who has a month to do a project, I started with a blast and then it petered off until I got a reminder email asking how it was going. Oh yeah – mid September.
I went in and tightened up the writing a bit and shared my document with Christine. I was actually quite happy with the results and so sat, waiting with my fingers crossed, for her response. It came back in a couple of hours. She liked it – but made a couple of suggestions.
And this was what I could capture from the screen. It went on considerably longer! In fact, the list of edits was longer than the original post.
I took a deep breath, suppressing nightmares of Grade 10 English class, and took a look at what she had done to my beautiful, creative, thoughtful, inspiring, soul-baring thoughts.
I pushed back my chair when I was done and let out my breath. Wow, she knows her stuff. I wonder what she actually thinks of me now!
I learned so much from this experience. Now, to my defence, Jisc is a UK publication. Many of the suggestions were made in order to present the content for their readership. It was a reminder to me that Canadian writing is an amalgam of British English and American English. I suspect that living close to the US border makes it even worse for me.
In particular, I learned a few things…
Anglicised a few things
I know that my US friends have issues at times with my spelling of words like “colour” but I spell “criticize” with a Z, not an S. That, and a few others had to be changed. p.s. that’s zed, not zee. You’ve got to know your audience and I missed this time. It reminded me of being corrected on stage at the CSTA conference for my pronunciation of Sched.
Punctuation in bullet point
I’ve always gone with what I was taught in school (or at least what I remember being taught). One was the punctuation at the end of statements listed in bullet points. I was always taught that you end each with a semi-colon and the final statement with a period. See – Punctuation with bulleted lists. That’s not the style used at Jisc. They go without punctuation.
Oops, there I go with the Z again. I remember being taught that, in a title, longer words should be capitalized. Jisc style is to only capitalize the first word so my “There Are No Bad Blogs” became “There’s no such thing as a bad blog“.
I did some digging and, apparently as my daughter would say, it’s a thing.
I had no idea there were different styles. I thought a rule was a rule.
It was all good and she had done such a nice job. Within a few days, I got an email from Christine that the post was up on the Jisc blog here. Of course, I had to look.
Again, another wow.
Put together by professionals and formatted nicely, it was a piece of art. I had the published version open in one tab and the original in another and kept flipping back and forth. You wouldn’t know that it was the same thing.
Then came the promotions. Many Twitter users with Jisc in their names or in their bio were promoting the post in messages. I’m sure that it’s expected from the organization but it gave me some new sources for information.
Every time someone drops me a comment indicating that there’s a mistake in my blog, I’m quick to fix it. I love the way that the community pulls together to make things the best they can be. I’ve learned a great deal from this experience and so my sincere thanks need to go to Christine and her team for all their efforts. You’ve helped me grow as a writer.
If I was writing the original point now, I know that I’d be adding “the kindness and wisdom of others” to the list.