I’m An Editor, Not An Anal Grammarian

Dear Reader,

This morning I had an introductory meeting with a writer interested in contracting me to edit her novel. I planned to make an authoritative impression, so I chose to wear my first-meeting-with-a-potential-client outfit: chestnut linen slacks, matching tailored jacket, slimming-but-not-too-low-cut-v-neck top, artsy-but-not-wacko jewelry, maroon Mary Jane’s, and tummy-control underwear. So as to appear unburdened and focused, I eschewed my everyday carryall full of books, pens, writing projects, note cards, and Day Runner for a sensible attaché, in which I loaded bare essentials like my wallet, two tissues, three pens, and a crisp notebook.

As I drove to Borders, where we were to meet, I slid rapper Eminem’s “The Eminem Show” into my CD player. I liked what I heard, so I turned up the volume. Then I turned it up some more, and some more, and still more until my windows rattled. Amused by myself, I thought You’d never know by looking at me that I’m not an anal grammarian. Smiling, I glanced to my left, and I saw a teenager in the next car block her face from me and put her cell phone to her ear. What’s her problem? I thought.

Within minutes I had my answer. A police cruiser started to pass me then dropped back and signaled for me to pull over. I cooperated. “Was I speeding?” I asked the officer when he stepped up to my window. “No, ma’am. Worse. Disturbing the peace.”

Crap! I knew this was going to happen. I can just imagine what they’ll print about me in the Westminster Window:

Jan. 24, 9:42 a.m. an officer responded to a noise complaint concerning a white Honda Accord sedan traveling westbound on Hwy 36, near Flatiron Mall. The officer reported that upon pulling alongside the Honda he heard loud cursing and bawdy bass notes. He then observed a middle-aged Caucasian female, wearing business attire, flashing gang gestures and suggestively pursing her lips. He called for backup then signaled for the driver to pull over her vehicle. When the officer questioned the driver about her loud music she became agitated. She then stated she was a book and poetry editor and that she was studying the rhyme schemes and sentence structure of rap music. The officer ticketed her for gesticular driving and failure to restrict herself to demographically appropriate music then instructed her to “keep it down.” The driver, Faye Quam Heimerl, exited the scene without incident.

Ticketing over, I quietly drove the last mile to my meeting. Confidence shaken, I wondered if I maybe wasn’t cut out to be an editor. I wondered if an editor would listen to Eminem. Would get choked up over John Philip Sousa’s “Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.” Would  naughtily embrace semi-colon jokes, mixed idioms, and fart humor. I also wondered if an authoritative editor would get smeared in Scrabble, read “common” literature, or host swearing tournaments.

I arrived at my destination internally ruffled but externally composed. I told myself to stay cool and just do what I always do when I meet a new client. She won’t have any reason to think I’m not a typical editor. So, I took my own advice. I strode up to my potential client, firmly shook her hand, and said, “It’s  good to meet you, dawg.”

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6 Responses to “I’m An Editor, Not An Anal Grammarian”


  1. 2 Faye Quam Heimerl 01/24/2009 at 11:43 pm

    Thanks. My writing partner Debra Shirley helped me lots.

  2. 3 Karen Douglass 01/30/2009 at 6:13 pm

    You know, given your piece on Poitier, I had the same feeling reading this one about your Eminem event. I could hear your voice! Write on!

  3. 4 Faye Quam Heimerl 01/30/2009 at 6:18 pm

    Thanks so much for your encouragement. Releasing the Eminem piece was hard cuz I sort of thought it was funny, but I didn’t want to chance being completely “un”funny. My writing partner clarified what my resistance was. Yay for in tune partners!

  4. 5 kristakae 02/17/2009 at 3:42 pm

    Just yesterday, when riding in Rud’s car, an Eminem song burst forth through the radio and I said to Rud, “Oh, it’s Faye’s favorite singer!” Rud looked at me in surprise and said, “Faye? Faye Faye?” “Yes…” I replied, “the only Faye we know.” And then I told him your story! So funny!

  5. 6 Faye Quam Heimerl 02/17/2009 at 5:56 pm

    Yay! I just don’t “look” like someone who’d dig rap music. That’s the funny part, isn’t it?


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