Over the last two weeks I’ve been doing a lot of proof reading or copy editing as they call it. After a whole day of just starting at words on a page you start to get into the zone. Mistakes sort of jump out at you, like a lonely bracket without its partner or two guilty looking full stops huddling together at the end of a sentence.
It probably hasn’t had much effect on my spelling (consistant or consistent, I dunno) but I think it is definitely helping.
It reminds me of a time when I worked on a dive boat in Far North Queensland which ran day trips to the Great Barrier Reef. I would take groups of qualified divers on little underwater tours, around coral bommies and through sea canyons. At first I was no better at spotting things than any of the other divers, it was all a jumble of sea life swaying in the current, but after a few days my eyes adjusted to the underwater world.
I started to spot things and was able to point them out to my trailing group of divers. Little things would start to jump out, like the lone bracket, except in the sea it was the eye of an octopus peering out from a small crack, a tiny translucent shrimp hanging mid water inside a barrel sponge, or a pair of long delicate crayfish antenna hovering just above the sand, giving away its hiding place in a shallow sea cave.
But the thing about proof reading, is that you have to assume their is a mistake, if you think the best you will not spot any errors as your brain will skim happily to the next word. So you have to read with a pessimistic mindset, assuming the worst and feeling pleased when you do find a mistake. And spending hours thinking like that left me feeling moody and depressed at the end of the day.
Struggling as I do with a natural leaning towards pessimism it has made me realise, quite apart from my spelling eccentricities, copy editing is not the job for me.