Archive for the ‘The Workplace’
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.
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.
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.
Photographs of our friends in Hello Kitty eyeglasses.
Sheryll is a shoe entrepreneur, Francine is the lifestyle editor of InterAksyon. Sheryll’s label Shoes by Kai produces handmade shoes using indigenous weaves—abel from the north (Ilocos) and soon, yakan from the south (Zamboanga). Francine welcomes contributions to the Lifestyle section. Pitch your ideas at…(hold on, we forgot to ask).
Editor-in-chief Roby hosted the second InterAksyon Cafe event with talks by Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez (20 Months of ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’) and coffee nerd Bobby Timonera (who depressed us with his assessment of local coffees but recommends Craft in New Manila and Curator in Makati.)
Incidentally, we gave a talk about movies at the first InterAksyon Cafe event. It went well, but we asked the team not to upload the video on YouTube because we had three chins. Two chins is normal, three is an invitation to trolls. (Never get shot from below.) We will post the audio as a podcast next week.
Afterwards we had dinner with Rene, who had to be home by 9:30pm to watch you know what. We caught an episode recently. The exes meet in the street. The music rises. A gust of wind disturbs the leaves on the ground and ruffles Eric’s hair. They have a strained conversation and a brief handshake. Then they spend the next five minutes in their respective apartments staring at their hands, unable to bring themselves to wash them. (Text at 10:27: Ayan na! Vincent is OUT!)
The chronicler of boredom told us he was planning to start a journal. Having maintained a journal since we were 12, we can vouch for the benefits of journal-keeping.
1. Writing forces you to organize your thoughts so your life feels more orderly. In our case, writing something down makes it feel more real.
2. It’s an excellent forum for venting, and unlike Facebook and other social media, the things you say in the grip of strong emotion will not come back to bite you someday.
3. The physical act of writing on paper is very relaxing. There’s nothing like defiling good paper. When you’re young it won’t matter if you write your journal on the backs of bus tickets; as you get older you may find that you like having nice things. As Raul says, “Luxury is our revenge on the young.” (We do not approve of the young having too much luxury. They haven’t earned it.)
4. As Oscar Wilde said, you need something sensational to read on the train or during long voyages.
5. It trains you to hold a conversation with yourself. If you can do that, you will never be deathly bored or lonely.
6. You deal with your feelings directly, saving you the cost of going to a psychotherapist.
7. You can express all your romantic obsessions, declarations of eternal passion, and half-serious threats to kill yourself for love without making your closest friends throw up. (In which case you should keep your journal in a very safe place because if other people read it, you’ll want to kill yourself.) Years later, you can re-read your hysterical entries and have a good laugh.
8. Very important for people who write: You can pilfer your journal for material.
9. You’re less likely to forget something if you write it in your journal.
10. If you become famous, it would be of great help to your official biographer. If you intend to become famous, you might want to make your days sound more fascinating than they really are. Embellish. You wouldn’t want to bore your biographer.