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Editor's Notes #70, The Perfect Word
April 19, 2009
Hello,

Good words by the third time will even bore the dogs.
-- Chinese proverb


In this issue:

1. The good word is
2. Editors and time
3. Tickled my funnybone

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1. The good word is
Words are like shoes. There is no one pair of shoes that fits every occasion. I can't jog in steel-toed boots, wouldn't walk the red carpet in sneakers, and didn't pack ski-do boots when I went to the Caribbean.

Similarly, there is no one perfect word. There is only the perfect word in a perfect spot.

The Chinese proverb above takes us further and warns us against over-using words. A perfect word used perfectly makes a strong impact. We risk losing the impact if we reuse the word in another spot where it is less than perfect.

The solution is to have a large vocabulary. Many writers and editors do. We often love words and hoard them in secret recesses of our minds. We mull them over in moments of solitude and savor their sounds and meanings.

Even those of us who top the scale on vocabulary tests can use the odd bit of help. I admit I was a word snob who thought I was above a thesaurus. But when I was given one as a gift, I was proved wrong. Now I reach for it from time to time just for the joy of seeing the associations the compliers made. And once in a while the thesaurus uncovers a perfect word I had overlooked when making my choices.

Don't bore your dog -- or your readers -- and don't wear out your words by using them too often or in the wrong places. Grow your vocabulary in any way that works for you and become adept at choosing the perfect word in the perfect spot.

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2. Editors and time
I had hoped by now to have finished the recession busting edits. I haven't even started. I had one large job that I thought I was finished, but wasn't. I'm still slogging away on that.

Then we had a horrific situation here. A client at a care facility shot a worker. I heard the shots as I drove home to pick up my mom to take here there to visit a friend. The news reports were disgustingly inaccurate: Three women killed; Two women and one man killed; Two women and one police officer shot; Three people killed, no one dead. The fact was that one man was shot by the client who was later shot by police. Everyone is still alive. It took a long time to calm my mom enough to allow me to spend time on anything that took any thought.

Even good news can become distracting, and we had some of that as well. We get to sell my mom's house. Read between the lines, Audrey gets to sell Mom's house. And I get to put a deck on the side of my house that has a view of the Pacific Ocean. Read that as, Audrey gets to pay some men to put a deck on the side of her house. Both items took unexpected amounts of time and energy.

There may be editors who can attend closely to someone else's text when sick, tired, or under emotional strain. I am not one of them. I need time and space, both physical and mental space, to give my best to a client.

So, my apologies to those who so quickly sent in their samples. You should be hearing from me soon.

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3. Tickled my funnybone
The man who fell into an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.

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