Photo: Carla DeSantis
*A version of this blog post was originally published by Editors' Weekly, the offical blog of Editors Canada, 26 May 2020.
I still yearn for my “Summer of Reading.” It was the summer after grade 8—that awkward age when you are too young for a job, too old for some camps—and I had the now-longed-for luxury of time. I consumed a large number of books, lying on my bed reading V.C. Andrews’s creepy Flowers in the Attic and afterwards racing to the store with my friend to get the second book in the trilogy, to quench our thirst for more. Lounging in my screened-in porch, I dug into S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and devoured To Kill a Mockingbird while sitting under a tree. Not all of them were classics but popular YA choices from a certain decade. It was glorious.
My husband’s quest for a minimalist home is futile. He longs for clean lines, mostly empty white shelves, while I feel panicked and see the house as soulless if those shelves are bare of my books. While I do continually purge my collection, the liberated spaces are quickly filled by new acquisitions.
Having watched a few episodes of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix together didn’t help matters. “See? You just hold the book in your hand and see if it sparks joy or not!” While I can see that working with socks or spatulas, my relationship with books is much more involved and complicated for disposal to be reduced to such simplicity.
What is your style guide? Armani? American Eagle? Ralph Lauren?
Maybe when it comes to your fashion choices, but when writing for publication, business, or academic purposes, you need a set of guiding standards to ensure that your important work is presented in a consistent way, so that your reader can focus on your crucial message and is not distracted by the fact that “New York Times” appears within quotation marks on page 4 and in italics as New York Times on page 120. (Are you referring to two different publications, the reader may ask herself?) If you cite (Brown 2001, 120) on page 45 and (Brown, 66) on page 56, is it the same reference? And minor variations like “the United States Government” in one place and “the US government” in another will simply irritate your reader.
"Click. Add note to replace text. Add text box with notation for typesetting. Strike through text. Insert correct source at cursor." I am working in Adobe Acrobat on page proofs, preparing them for publication with a university press. I have been invested in this project from:
A Different Kind of Manuscript
Twenty years ago, however, you would have found me in the venerable Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan or Biblioteca Statale of Cremona in Italy, perusing a different kind of manuscript – ones written by hand on vellum or parchment paper in the late Middle Ages. I imagined a life of research, studying the written treasures hidden within the pages of such medieval manuscripts – accessible only to those trained to read the cryptic script and qualified to handle the fragile pages – and teaching Latin to university students. How did I end up working on modern books, on digital platforms, for other scholars?
I am Carla DeSantis, and welcome to my blog! I love language and words and books, and have turned this love into a business, helping others to perfect their written message.