Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Rain-Rein-Reign in Spain

You will not be surprised to know my main concern today has been for Eddi and Larry. She has been moved to a larger hospital just a bit north of us and the doctors, while certainly not denying hope, have warned her family things really, really don't look good. So we wait and we pray.

It's been a strange jumble of a day and I'm not sure I could accurately describe it, should a prosecuting attorney have me trapped on the witness stand. Distraction does strange things to your memory. Asked what I had done all day, I'd probably end up with, "Well, first I -- no, wait. That was between -- oh, I remember now. No I don't. Let's see. I'm sure -- well, I think maybe..."

In self-defense, I finally curled up with a Ruth Rendell book I hadn't read before. If you're not acquainted with her, Rendell writes some of the most intelligent and deliciously layered crime fiction available. She is one of those authors who simply never lets you down, either in the area of creative imagination or craft skills. That's more than you can say about some authors, even when they regularly enjoy bestseller status and really ought to know better.

I'm not trying to be snobbish here. Lord knows, I can't throw any stones of superiority, nor would I want to. But I do grind my teeth when people misuse the tools of their trade. And words are the tools of the writer's trade.

I just got through reading a book by a bestselling author that had me shaking my head and wondering where that author's line editor was. The author (who shall remain nameless) has an excellent vocabulary, no question about it. But we all mispronounce or misunderstand the occasional word here and there. A good line editor is supposed to help catch that sort of error. Still, in this particular book, several misused (or non-existent) words were sitting there just as though they belonged and they were probably feeling pretty smug for having slipped in under the radar.

I'm not sure if this is the most often misused set of words in the English language but it must be the set I most often notice being misused. Rein and reign. And our hapless bestseller misused those words, not once, but several times. As in: "She tried to reign in her expectations."

No, no, NO! To reign is to rule. To rein is to use the lines attached to the bridle to control the critter wearing the bridle -- literally or figuratively. Therefore: The reigning queen reined in her steed and they soaked up the pouring rain, which was falling mainly on the plain in Spain. (The rain reference was for fun, just because.)

Understand, I'm not immune to making careless grammar and word usage errors. Although I really do know better, I all too often find I've written "it's" when I should have written "its." Or I might say "to" when I mean "too." Or I might say "was" when it should be "were." But, hey, I'm not a bestselling author, laughing all the way to the bank. And I really do try to proofread what I've written to catch that sort of error. So I respect the writer who has enough pride to do the same.

Careful craftsmanship is such a pleasure to behold, no matter the medium. I think, too, it makes us extend our reach. We do try harder and improve more if we test ourselves against excellence, don't you think? Although, if we spend too much time in the rain, mildew may become a problem.


Anonymous said...

Glad to report that some kindly weather god has reined in the rain here, Dee. Now, if only some kindly line editor god would take care of me I'd be well away...

John B:)

Anonymous said...

There are those writers who feel that thoughts should be allowed to freely flow from head to fingertips without editing. I think they fail to realize that for the reader, those errors are a distraction to the thought the writer is trying to make.

Like making sure my shoes shine before leaving home, I try to polish my prose before letting others read it.


Mage said...

My prayers remain with Eddi. And too, I agree with you. Then again, perhaps cost cutting measures have severely deleted staff at her publishers, and the proof reader and editor are now 19 year olds.

bb said...

Hope Eddi does better than expected.

I was unaware you were blogging as no notify came in at all. Gave up a list didja?

I'm terribly disappointed you didn't have a go at a snow something at least toss a snow ball at one of those going into the Greasy Spoon. :-)

And don't expect me to look for the million dollar banana. If it goes up in Summer it will sizzle the first hour.

bb said...

OK Ok so I see the notify thingy now. But hey... oh well.

Dee said...

Just a quick peek in ... thanks for the continued mojo for Eddi. My last report says there has been some improvement (Yay!) and we'll take whatever we can get. (smile) Bonnie, glad your notify was confirmed. Welcome. John, good that the rain was reined in. Now Dolly can reign again in the back yard. Heh, heh. And Day Tripper (see link list) is busy today with the Chargers/Patriots game in San Diego. Go, Chargers! Catch you all later this evening.

Wolfie said...

Don't you mean "grammatical and word usage errors"?


Oh, put that claw away - I'm just pickin' attcha!