Friday, October 28, 2011


There is a scene in Ghostbusters where the fellas find themselves in jail, awaiting judgment. Winston, frustrated with Dr. Egon's dispassionate, academic approach to their predicament, shouts, "Hold it. We're supposed to tell the mayor that some moldy Babylonian god is here to start tearing up the city?"
          "Sumerian, not Babylonian." is Egon's answer.
          "Yeah," Peter Venkman chimes in, "big difference."
          Its a humorous moment because most people in the audience would agree with Winston and Venkman; who cares?

The Pedant cares. Pedants get a bad rap because of their insistence on distinguishing between differences in details. If you don't have any interest in ancient Sumer or Babylon you might get annoyed at such finicky, hair-splitting. Its not worth your time. The pedant is eternally surprised by this attitude. A pedantic approach to information is not nit-picking, its another way of saying "accurate."

The greatest disappointment in my life occurred in my thirties when I discovered that I am not a detail person. You can tell how much of a detail person I'm not by how long it took me to realize it. Honest, I thought I was. But it's true. I look at a forest and see not trees, but huge green thing. As a writer, this is a handicap. I don't notice things like whether or not my indent spaces are consistent. My grammar lacks... well, grammar. And thank God for spellcheck.

I am a writer. That means I work to overcome my crushing disadvantage. I love research, its the whole words-on-paper thing I struggle with. Yet, struggle I do because write I must. I don't like it, as some writers profess. I like having it done. No, I write because I have ideas and concepts to tell others. The written word is the most efficient way to communicate ideas since the invention of the campfire.

So, for me, writing is not always a pleasure. Often, its the mental equivalent of ditch-digging. Very well. That is a price I am willing to pay.

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