Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

Gandalf is looking pretty grim on one of the latest books released prior to the premiere of the long-awaited Hobbit movie, coming very soon to a theater near everyone in the world.
The cover of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Official Movie Guide' (my scan)

Minus his beard, long hair, wrinkles, shape of face, and hair and eye color, I look pretty grim, too. For there is a wrong to be righted. I may alienate some people. I may not make any new friends ever. I may cause mass rioting somewhere on a logging road in the North Woods. But this is something that must be done for all those people who have suffered what I have borne in my life: the grievous error of a misspelled name.

My name looks simple. I mean, it is right in your face up there atop this blog because I couldn't think of anything better to write. Six letters for the first name, five for the second. Nevertheless, it's a name that is misspelled by lots of folks. Most can't even say it. The first time my name was in print in the local newspaper, it wasn't my name. It was misspelled.

It is likely the only sane explanation for why I became a writer and editor. At a newspaper.

What in the blue blazes have I got to do with this book, you ask.

Absolutely nothing.
Page 45, location of the grievous error

I made a promise to myself (probably as a child, but I can't remember if that is actually true) that I would try my best -- yes, my very best -- to make sure people's names are spelled correctly. But days ago, and this I do vaguely recall, I made a vow to a complete stranger that I would do what you are about to read.

I would correct his misspelled name.

I happened across a completely private conversation in the Land Where 140 Characters Reign between two "people" I "follow" so I can eavesdrop. They "follow" me, too. Which is suspicious, I know.

It was there I saw the words that set off every alarm in my addled head. One person was happy to have seen the other person's name in the aforementioned book. The one with the name in the book replied that it was misspelled.

I sat there in dumb silence. And then frantically butted into the conversation by asking how anyone could misspell his name.

"I know, never mind...," he wrote, handily keeping within the 140-character count.

Then and there I vowed to him and the "people" in the Land Where 140 Characters Reign that I would right this wrong when I got my hands on my copy of the book.

"No probs," he replied; I could feel his pain. When he posted "Ha Ha!" moments after I typed of my plan to assist, I knew he was suffering.

You may be wondering, kind of off topic in my opinion but I know how people's minds can wander and you are likely still reeling from his heartfelt expression of emotion and need a moment to get yourself under control ... Wait, where was I?

Oh, yeah, how do I happen to have any sort of contact with someone whose name might be in a book about the biggest movie in the universe?

Well, I am wondering that, too, but I have found a lot of things are not as they should be in the Land Where 140 Characters Reign.

I somehow "met" someone who followed someone who someway came across Mark Atkin, one of the 13 lads who are the small-scale doubles to the company of Dwarves in the greatest show on Earth. And so I "followed" him and for some crazy reason he probably is regretting -- again -- right about now, he "followed" me back.

Now that we have recovered our sensibilities, it is time to right this wrong.

Here it is.
The grievous error

That is seriously bad. See, it's right there. Horrible. I feel your pain, Mark.

OK, I get the feeling some of you are not following me here.  So here's an arrow.
The grievous error highlighted in Photoshop with an obvious arrow

Still don't see it? Mark Atkin, people. There is only one of him. Not a plural.

My plan was simple: Take my handy and brilliantly red, felt-tipped marker and correct his name by using that age-old trick from back in the day when copy was edited by hand and papers delivered by mule train.

I would do a swervy thingamabob and edit the grievous error out like it was never there in the first place.

I had to do this right, however. I owed it to Mark. So I practiced for a while.
Practiced standard copy editing mark to signal removal of a character, first on scrap paper and then on photocopies. Twice for good measure and to waste paper.

The scrap-paper version does look a little shaky at times, while the two on the photocopies were better but still slightly tentative. But after a laborious 10 seconds of practice, I was ready to act because this needed to be done. Now.

I flexed my fingers, picked up the pen, opened to page 45 and DEFACED MY BRAND NEW BOOK.

At this point, I didn't want to smudge the ink onto the other page where there was a nice picture that was not of Mark, so I blew on the swervy thingamabob, thinking it looked pretty solid.

Then I laid down my sword, er, pen and took this picture of the triumphant correction in my now defaced tome.
The page, corrected, with editor's best weapon, a red PaperMate Flair

If you are angling for a closeup of this wonder, here you go.
Note the clear line and easy curve in the swervy thingamabob.
So, Mark, you are avenged in one copy of this book, just as promised. And as for that conversation in the Land Where 140 Characters Reign just a few hours prior to this writing, I understand your reluctance to admit again the distress this has caused -- may even have been the root of your so-called accident this past week in the placid New Zealand forest -- and apologize for my callous teasing earlier when this is so obviously a raw wound this grievous error has opened.

When you say "Ha Ha!," my friend in 140-blah-blah land, I feel your pain.

This soliloquy with illustrative pictures is being posted with a mighty big thank you to Mark Atkin, who probably is now going to unfollow, block and report me for spam in the Land Where 140 Characters Reign. And if he doesn't, then he is a prince among men, which makes him a most excellent choice as the small-scale double for Thorin Oakenshield in "The Hobbit" trilogy. I promise I will attempt to determine when you are on screen and squeal appropriately. Also, I will do a convincing standing ovation during the credits. Congratulations, Marc, oh, Marck, er, Marko. Whatever. 

Yup, Mr. Atkin, this soliloquy would be the smiley face I promised. I refuse to deface my book any further.


Faboamanto said...

Bravo on your efforts to correct his name.

My real name is constantly misspelled and I've learned to live with it after many years. It is a foreign name in the land I live, and after a while you get tired of complaining. As long as it's not in something official, I grin and bear it :)

The above is by way of explanation as to why I feel Mark's pain deeply about his name being misspelled in the book. As someone who follows him in the land you mention, he seems like a very, very, nice guy who deserves better, and someone should have checked all name spellings before the book was published.

Servetus said...

Love this. You did the right thing.

(I also have a terrible for English speakers to spell last name. Somewhat compensated for by the fact that in the land of my ancestors it magically becomes no trouble ...)

Janine Pineo said...

Knowing how editing works, it could have happened anywhere down the line.

However, it sounds like it is the lone mention, so I wanted to note it somewhere. And give Mark a little unholy amusement over it, if I could. I mean he is in 'The Hobbit,' for Peter Jackson's sake.

Someday you need to tell me your name so I can think of you, correctly spelled. :)

Thank you for commenting and being part of such a welcoming group.

Janine Pineo said...

I am still trying to figure your lineage out, Servetus. :) You keep distracting me with your new posts.

Names can be so tricky and people don't take care of the details. It's a small thing, but being someone who has had it spelled wrong so many ways, I know it matters. And mine is always mispronounced regularly, too. I had a feeling you'd understand if you read this. ;)

Thank you for the comment. And thanks for the welcome.

Fanny/iz4blue said...

OY I feel his lament! . "What's in a name?" Except that its yours! Kuddos for using the red marker and writing an ode to the name and by way to the nice man who bears it :)

At least his name doesn't contain an apostrophe one has to fight over as modern technology doesn't care for them.

Anonymous said...

Ah! I have that book. Going to make a suitable correction right now.

It's a good book, otherwise.

Janine Pineo said...

Fanny, thank you kindly. I'll make sure to tell Mark to pop back to see these sweet remarks.

So, there's an apostophe in your moniker? That wasn't considered by the computer geeks, was it? My sympathies on your plight.

I wonder if we should start a misspelled-name support group?

Janine Pineo said...

Thank you! I hoped there would be a wave of editing as a result. :)

Yes, it is a lovely book. Now that I have fulfilled my promise, maybe I can read it and bask in the beauty of a particular dwarf.

I just need to hide my red pen. ;)

Anonymous said...

Our names are a strong feature of our identity. (when asked by parents for input on baby sister's name, I gave her the one I would have preferred, if I'd been asked. :D She still thanks me. Giggle. She actually likes it. I just live with mine.) And stoically correct those who assume it is the short version...wish I had had middle name (like one of my friends, who disliked her first name and switched to her middle name. My middle name isn't that flexible. :D)


Janine Pineo said...

You should, perhaps, play alphabet soup with all the letters and see what you can come up. :D Thanks, fitzg, for stopping by. And if you get the book, grab a pen and edit!