Photographer: Uriel Messa
As third proof-reader I see my job as ensuring that the articles I check read smoothly, have, as far as possible, no grammatical or spelling mistakes and are factually correct and as perfect as possible.
This is quite a tall order, given that most of our contributors are enthusiastic amateurs when it comes to writing. I take my hat off to the two people who have proofed the piece before it reaches me, as very often they have had to reorganize whole sentences and even paragraphs to get something resembling correct and readable English. This is not a job I would ever want.
On the other hand, that rewriting leaves words in the wrong order, gaffes in syntax and missing words, all of which I love to catch.
When the manuscripts arrive at my home, usually nowadays by taxi, I sit at the dining-room table, red pen poised, and get to work. Some articles need no intervention from me, some a few annotations here and there.
Occasionally one gets a beautifully written piece from some of our professional writers and they are a joy to read.
Many writers seem to think that scattering exclamation marks liberally around their text is a substitute for imaginative and creative work.
Exclamation marks are my 'bête noire'. Good writers rarely use them. Take a look at any article in any newspaper and you will hardly ever see an exclamation mark. In principle I just remove them all if I get my hands on an article but unfortunately I don't do the whole magazine any more, it's just too much work for one person. So some exclamation marks and other horrible writing habits (like the woman who refers back to something already mentioned as 'same' – e.g. take paper and then write on same' -urghhhh!) escape my eagle eye.
A few magazines ago the idea was mooted of having the proofreaders work by computer instead of on the actual text. Apart from the fact that one has to learn this technique, I'm glad the idea was dropped. I would hate to give up my red ballpoint pen.
I consider it a privilege to be associated, even in my modest way, with the excellent publication that is Esramag. I will carry on chasing up horrors like 'ex-patriots' and 'phenomena' used in the singular for as long as I am able.