Writing Tips at GarySpeer.com

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Being married to a proofreader is both blessing and burden


I was reminded yesterday what a blessing — and sometimes a burden — it is being married to a professional proofreader.

My wife has been a professional proofreader for more than 30 years. For 15 of those years, she had a “9 to 5” job (actually, it was more like 6:00 to 4:30 for four days a week most of that time) working in a proofroom in the production area of a major religious publishing house. For the remaining 16-18 years, she’s done steady freelance proofreading for the same publishing house as well as other freelance proofreading, both online and off line. (She has an occasional, very lucrative gig with a local ad agency.)

Having such an incredible resource almost constantly, instantly accessible is an incredible blessing for my writing career.

Then there are those times when she likes to play word games and irritate me with her superior knowledge of grammar, usage, and — ugh! — spelling. I was writing something very informal like an email yesterday and wanted to use the word “assuage.” I think that was the word, and I’ve forgotten the exact context. My wife was walking through the room and I sort of muttered something like, “Hey, honey, here’s what I’m trying to say … and I think the word I want is “assuage,” isn’t it?” “Yes, dear, that sounds right. Can you spell it?”

Ugh. I’ve struggled all my life with spelling. Only with hefty doses of a dictionary, a good spell checker on my computer, and, yes, my wife’s help, have I overcome my spelling foibles. (In my mind, when I need to use the word, I always try to spell it “secound” instead of “second.”)

“Spell the word,” I said. “Why would you want me to spell the word? I’m sure I can spell it.”

“Okay, so go ahead,” she said, mischievous smile in place. “Spell it for me.”

At times like that, the blessing aspects of marriage to a proofreader tend to dim and the burden aspect comes to the forefront. (And, yes, I did spell it correctly — although I hesitated just slightly when I came to the double “s,” and she was quick to interject, “Two esses.”)