Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘The Workplace’

All cats are critics

March 10, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, The Workplace No Comments →


Saffy: It is faithful to its literary source.
Drogon: There are not enough cats.

Is krungkrung hyphenated?

January 23, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Language, The Workplace 4 Comments →

Our friend Noel sent us a video report that could very well be the definition of krungkrung. Then he asked something that, in our universe, is a vital question: Is krungkrung hyphenated? Krungkrung or krung-krung?

Read our column at

How can we get any work done?

December 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, The Workplace 1 Comment →

You’re looking for something? What? What? Can I help?

Have you looked in your bag? I’ll find it, I’m very helpful.

Maybe it’s on this shelf. Ooh, books. Will you read a book to me? I love stories.

Are you writing your column? Can I write it for you? Look, I can hold a pen.

Are you tired? Why don’t you rub my tummy? It’s very soft.

Look into my eyes. Your eyelids are getting heavy. Sleep. Sleeeeep.

The difficulties of writing at home

February 18, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Notebooks, The Workplace 8 Comments →

We’re writing a short story when a shadow falls upon the paper, followed by furry feet.

Saffy, get off our notebook, we’re writing.

Please get off our notebook.

You can’t be hungry, you just ate. And we just cleaned the litter box so you can’t complain. It’s our writing time, go away.

– I am inspiring you.
– Thanks, but what’s the point when we can’t see the page.
– That is not my problem.

Yes, we do judge people by their grammar.

December 31, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Language, The Workplace 2 Comments →

Read How To Use An Apostrophe in The Oatmeal.

I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar.
by Kyle Wiens in the HBR blogs
(Please, we don’t even admit their comments. Fine, most of their comments.)

If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss’s more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar “stickler.” And, like Truss — author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves — I have a “zero tolerance approach” to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have “zero tolerance.” She thinks that people who mix up their itses “deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave,” while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job — even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can’t distinguish between “to” and “too,” their applications go into the bin.

Thanks to Ricky for the link.

The Importance of Being Edited

October 24, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, The Workplace 8 Comments →

koosi desk

We have been lucky in our publishing career: we’re allowed to write pretty much whatever we want, and on the few occasions that we weren’t 100 percent enthusiastic about the work assigned to us, we didn’t exactly suffer, either. However, there is one thing about our life in publishing that’s bothered us (and it’s not the fact that the big bucks have been elusive). We’ve never really been edited.

Copy-edited, yes. Proofread, yes. But no one has ever given us a clear and straightforward assessment of our work: its strengths and weaknesses, intellectual failings, emotional bullshit, lines that must be crossed, ambitions we might harbor. No one who knows us well and whom we trust calls us out when we settle for being amusing when we could do more. (Reviewers don’t count; speaking as a reviewer, we don’t necessarily have your best interests in mind.)

Having seen many movies in which the editors of the great New York publishing houses take their writers to four-martini lunches to talk about their manuscripts, having read about Scott Fitzgerald and Maxwell Perkins, J.D. Salinger and William Shawn, and all the great writer-editor tandems, we’ve always wanted the guidance of a mentor-editor. Maybe if we’d majored in Creative Writing instead of Comparative Lit, or attended more writing workshops, or enrolled in an MFA program, we might’ve found that editor.

We joined exactly one workshop, the UP Summer Writers’ Workshop, during our sophomore year in college. It was wonderful: we met writers, talked about our work processes, felt less alone in the lit universe. But the discussion of our story went like this: “Oh, it’s the J.D. Salinger fan. Hilarious! Next.” Sure, there were a couple of angry Marxists muttering on the sidelines, but they never said anything openly.

Since then we’ve had some wonderful publishers, but we’ve been hoping for a Gordon Lish to come along and slash and burn our drafts for our own good. This is not humility—our ego is vast and swallows planets (like Galactus). But every time we have a new book out, we can’t shake the feeling that we’re missing something vital.

See how Gordon Lish edited Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Some weeks ago, while preparing the manuscript for our new collection of short stories, it occurred to us that we know someone who is a brilliant editor and a great friend. She also happens to be the most well-read person we know. So we asked Tina Cuyugan (editor of Forbidden Fruit, former World News editor of Today) to edit our book.

The other day Tina sent us her edits and comments—which stories were strong, which parts were structurally unsound, what could be left out, and so on. It was as if we had been scribbling away in a dark and airless tower, and someone opened a window. And not for us to leap out of. For the first time, we got a proper appraisal of our work. Why didn’t we do this sooner? Now we know what we can do. Suddenly, we feel like a writer.

Every writer needs an editor. No exceptions.

Jessica Cover
Get the e-book at our online store, opening in late November.