It’s impossible for someone to review their own work. You can’t. I’ve encouraged Connor throughout his high school tenure to let someone review his essays, because a reviewer sees things he doesn’t. I’m a writer – I get paid to string words together, and I know, without question, I need someone to review my work. It’s absolutely necessary, and is written into the official content development process at almost every writing position I’ve held in my career. Codemonkeys have code reviews and Wordnerds have peer reviews. It’s totally a thing. If people don’t have someone do an edit, peer review, or proofread, you end up inviting a bunch of dignitaries to an event scheduled for the previous year (oops!), or looking like an idiot on your election glossies because you used the wrong their/there/they’re, or you get Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Sorrynotsorry, JKR. That needed tightening up).
So half a career ago, to sharpen those reviewing skills, I attended an editing seminar.
Two things stuck with me about that seminar: (1) Holy smokes, people can get wrapped around the axle about why one should not use an image if it doesn’t add value to the text, and (2) If you find an error in a sentence, there’s a better than 80% chance that if there’s another error in the sentence, you’ll miss the second one. I didn’t ask for sources on her statistic – it could actually be more like 10% or 90%. The presenter at that seminar could have made it up, like when I say I’m 64% sure that this is the right street, or I’m 87% sure that we have another bag of milk in the fridge. The 100% legit take away is that when you find an error in a sentence, start at the beginning of that sentence again. Maybe there’s nothing, but maybe there is, and you get to be the smartypants who finds it.
I have always liked doing peer reviews at my DayJobs, and because of best practises like this, I’m even pretty good at it. So you’d think that it’d be easypeasy to whip out that skill to other parts of my life right? Yeaaah, no. You’d be wrong.
At the Sea Hagg shop in Cortez, Florida, I marvelled over lighthouse lenses and mermaid lamps and salvaged nets and cork floats and rusting fence segments with trident embellishments. And two maple syrup buckets full of keys found with a metal detector on Anna Maria Beach – with a sign indicating that they were authentic… wait for it… Florida Keys.
Ba-da bomp. Sorrynotsorry here, too. That’s gold.
Anyway, after 90 minutes wandering through the spectacle of that place, I bought a grapefruit sized glass net-float. I had the presence of mind to sift through the basket of them to get a blown float, not a cast one. And then I saw another basket of Japanese floats with coconut-fibre rope nets around the float. You know, like it would have if it had been in the water, doing its net-floaty job. I checked to find one that had the button to indicate that it was blown, and took my SeaHagg-borne treasure home.
Back in the Great White North after my vacation, I unwrapped my net float and it immediately occurred to me that the float wasn’t water-worn at all. Perfectly translucent sea-blue glass. How did I not notice that when I was all overwhelmed and giddy at the store? Oh…wait a minute… riiiiiight.
It’s a weird transferrable skill, and, it took me to school.
I still love it, don’t get me wrong. It’s a lovely translucent sea-blue net floatie in its coconut fibre bikini. And a visit to the Googleverse shows lots of images of Japanese glass net floats that don’t look particularly frosted. So it’s more like it’s a grand spankin’ new float that’s never seen a day of work in it’s life. I’m not sayin’ everything in a coconut bikini is fake. I’m just sayin’ I maybe need to be a better editor.