“Yes, I am silently correcting your grammar” – as seen on every editor’s t-shirt, coffee mug, and screen saver
In our house, we have always had an equal distribution of skill sets regarding homework.
Got an insane statistics problem to solve? Dad is your guy. You say your science fair exhibit isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. Talk to Dad. But when it comes to writing book reports, term papers, and college essays, I’m your girl.
I have over 30 years of editing experience behind me. I’ve been a freelance writer, an editor, a social media content creator, and a communications professional. But my family did not always welcome my stellar spelling skills, grammar expertise, and high-level critiques regarding theme, content, and overall cohesiveness. It’s a well-known fact that if you want me to read your paper, you should be prepared to rewrite it.
Sorry, not sorry.
As you can imagine, this often caused a lot of fighting and frustration around the kitchen table. Eventually, I restrained myself, limited my red pen markings to typos and punctuation errors, and left the prose to them. Occasionally, I’d let one or two editorial comments slip in by suggesting a better hook or a way to rewrite the ending. Sometimes my feedback was accepted, but back then, the more eye-rolling I received, the less I wanted to push the issue.
Now that the kids are older, they recognize what I have to offer them. (FINALLY!) So last night, when Jenna asked me to read her personal statement for an application, I was happy to oblige. I took a first pass at it and provided what I like to call “suggested edits,”—meaning she didn’t have to use them. They were merely suggestions. I sent her paper back to her and braced myself for her reaction.
“Mom, you tore up my paper!” – she exclaimed.
And then, she said what I’ve always wanted to hear – THANK YOU!
This was the beginning of a long night of her writing and my editing. She is an excellent writer, a chip off the old block, I’d say. But putting together a personal statement is no easy task. Not only does it need to be well-written, but also compelling. It has to say, “I’M PERFECT FOR THIS POSITION. PLEASE HIRE ME!” without being too obvious.
After she accepted my suggested edits, the real work began. We had an in-depth discussion about what she wanted to convey and how the stories she told tied into her career goals and enhanced her statement. At 10 pm, everything was in good shape, except neither of us liked the beginning or the end. At this point, we were on a roll, and after yet another discussion and rewrite, we were both happy with the end result.
When we were done, I shared with her what a joy it was to help her and how I struggled with how much I should weigh in on her work. But she stopped me right there and admitted that in high school, she didn’t always appreciate me as a writer and an editor. I was just her mom. And now, she wants me to edit away and share my perspective because she understands she will have a much better result.
Moms and Grammar nerds for the win!
P.S. The above story is meant to explain why I didn’t write a blog post last night. She used up all of my writing mojo for the evening! 🙂