Editing at 20 mph
When you work with words, compulsive editing is an occupational hazard. Whether it’s a cereal box or 5,000 word Sunday magazine piece, I can’t help but wonder about the author’s word choices.
It’s the same with the signboards that every church or school seems to have. So when I saw this one in Irondale, “Have you helped someone today,” I started editing. (And I’m assuming there wasn’t a question mark in the box of letters.)
It always starts with what you’re trying to communicate. And this message seems accusatory. Surely you’ve helped someone. What about “Who have you helped today”? Gently assumes you’ve helped someone. But maybe that’s giving the reader too much credit.
“How did you help someone today?” Still assumes they’ve helped, but puts the emphasis on the person receiving the help. But suddenly it’s academic, because I’m thinking about the little climb after the trestles and up to Ruffner.