A few weeks back on the blog I asked if I should pay for professional editing services for my manuscript or just do my best and send it away. I chose the former, and it's shaping up to have been a good decision. She's sent me a note of encouragement--the details in it boil down to "you don't suck"--containing the good news that she might be done ahead of schedule. Yay! While that means I probably ought to get busy revising Book 2 so it can be out of the way before I get back into the meat of Book 1, it's also sure sign of definite and positive progress.
OK, so editing a book is important. What about blog posts? I've been viewing the book and the blog as two separate entities, two very different exercises. The book is a deliberate act of writing a story, and it's intended to impress enough readers to actually add a bit to my income, so it stands to reason that it needs to convey the story as correctly as possible. Most people can probably read over a single misplaced comma, for example, and never realize it, but the fact is that commas and other punctuation marks do mean something to the reader, as I discussed in my "Road Signs" post. Thus, the number of errors should definitely be minimized in a commercial work of fiction.
Commercial work of fiction this blog ain't, though. I started it as a personal journal made public, a way to look back once the novel is published and really understand what I've been through. I made it public because I think there are a lot of people who, like me, have never actually written and subsequently published the book they've always been planning to write and who are a bit scared by the prospect. Thing is, though, that I'm a bit of a crass, grumpy old man, a trait that this stream-of-conscience style of writing tends to highlight.
I make mistakes, too. A couple of days ago I was, by way of indulging in a bit of nostalgia, reading over the first few blog posts I'd made, and the second one I just plain couldn't read. It was bad. Part of the badness is a testament to how much my writing skills have improved over the months; at least, I don't think my current blog posts are that error-riddled. The other part, though, is just a testament to bad writing skills. In any event, when I recognize bad writing I have to ask myself if I should edit it or leave it as evidence of...well, something.
Should have or shouldn't have, the crass, grumpy old man that I am edited it and then saved it without much internal argument. Bite me if it was wrong. I did, however, start feeling a little bit of a quandary later. Should I have changed the story?
As always, I turn to the experts, or at least those who seem to be experts by virtue of their voice on the Internet. Jennifer Kyrnin, of About.com, wrote a column asking the question here: http://webdesign.about.com/b/2010/04/26/do-you-edit-your-blog-posts-not-all-sites-do.htm. One of her commenters answered with a great quote: "Surely content is king, but by the same standard, editing must be the queen; There's (sic) nothing I cannot stand more than typos and errors that are obviously just pure laziness on the part of the poster...." When I say great I really mean that it carries a perfectly valid yet grammatically-incorrect point. It makes my snarky insides bubble right over in happiness.
In my research on the topic I found other examples of people, in blogs and in comments on blogs, complaining about grammar and spelling errors while making grammar and spelling errors themselves. I'd go on, but it would just be beating a dead hearse. We all make mistakes. When I find them in my own blog, I'm going to correct them. If I ever decide to turn this blog into a commercial activity--and don't think I haven't considered writing a book on the experience--I'll make sure that what goes into the book is correct, too. On the flip side, though, I don't plan on going back through over a hundred posts to edit for the sake of editing. I've enjoyed the experience, flitting carelessly through the ebb and flow of blog prose, writing ideas in a somewhat sorta grammatically correct kind of way, and I hope that people enjoy reading the posts. If I make errors along the way, please feel free, gentle reader, to point them out so I can correct them (assuming, that is, that I didn't intend to make them in the first place).
Do you have different thoughts? Is line editing important for blog posts, or are you OK wading through a mangled sentence or two to get to content? I'd love to hear from you on the matter.