There’s a war going on. It’s the Jets (the passionate, egotistical author) versus the Sharks (the oppressive, supercilious editor). It’s the Montagues (the idealistic, love-me-or-leave-me writer) versus the Capulets (the self-righteous, it’s-my-way-or-the-highway editor). It’s traditional grammar versus the Wild West blogosphere. It’s rules versus freedom.
Once upon a time when elementary school was known as grammar school and diagramming a sentence was the norm in a typical school day, the rules were easy to abide by. Listen to your English teacher, refer to Strunk and White, and write the perfect sentence. Even so, most writers only saw their work scrolling out of their own typewriter or scribbled in their journal. Being published was challenging and rare.
Now, everyone and their dog posts on Facebook, tweets, or writes a blog. Publishing can be accomplished with a mouse click within seconds of the initial idea. So, the blogosphere calls out to those who seek an avenue of self-expression, tempting them to throw off the shackles of traditional grammar. Never fear, those fussy grammarians are still out there defending against the demise of the English language.
It’s a codependent relationship. The writer needs an editor’s expertise to make sure their prose is credible and not misunderstood. The editor needs the writer’s creativity in order to craft those groups of words for which they have so much respect.
In the too-often quoted words of Rodney King, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Every writer needs someone to help them not look stupid. Every editor needs to remember that grammar rules change and that at the end of the day, ownership of the piece belongs to the author. The author needs to be a little less defensive and the editor needs to be a little less superior. It’s time for a truce. Writers and editors should be partners not opponents.