Fiction: Communication

communication

Title: Communication
Word Count: 653
Prompt: For the [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol prompt “Crossing all the T’s”
Summary: Being an editor is a thankless but essential task.

Being an editor was a thankless task. If you let errors through, people would mock you. Even if you didn’t make mistakes, they would deride everything from click-bait headlines (though she agreed with the tirade against such despicable journalism, if the word could be applied to the practice) to “inappropriate” word choices.

God forbid you got a fact wrong. Which in the days of the Internet had become complicated because while on the one hand you could easily use a search engine and have results at your fingertips, facts were now routinely called into question. History was unreliable. People were liars. Misinformation was reported, and then re-reported, and quoted, and referenced, until the lie was more real than the truth. You could calmly publish an article on how the Earth is round and get a dozen rebuttals on everything from “it’s actually an ellipsoid” through “screw your conspiracy theories the world is really falt its’ in the bibble” to the “earth isn’t real we r in the Matrix”.

Meanwhile, no matter how much research went into a piece, how much spell checking, and grammar checking, and referring to style guides an editor went through, a piece might be derided by readers for reasons such as (indefensibly) “it was written by a woman” or “it appeared next to a really inappropriate advertisement.” The latter of which was out of her hands. It was someone else’s job to publish and to make sure the platform was appropriate.

Finally there were those who accused anyone who cared about silly things, such as grammar, of pedantry. They held that the correct use of capitals was pointless, as were things like punctuation marks and paragraph breaks and correct spelling. Wars raged in the comments with people claiming that no-one cared “if i wont 2 rit liek diz u cant tell me wot 2 do” while believing they should be paid attention to. It was like standing on stage mumbling into your hand and expecting people to strain to hear what you said, but then people were entitled these days. Wilfully ignorant, the worst kind of ignorance to her mind.

With a sigh, she walked to Tom’s desk. She was almost certain this wasn’t wilful ignorance, but thirty seconds using Google would have found his error.

“Tom.”

“Yes?” He looked up with a guilty smile, changing his browser tab from whatever non-work related article he was reading to a local news webpage.

“The song you mentioned in this piece?”

He frowned, then nodded. “Sure. By Coldplay. Fuc-”

Fix You! It’s Fix You.” She’d looked it up to be sure, double-checking that it wasn’t Try to Fix You because song titles could be tricky like that.

Tom’s mouth fell open. “Oh. That’s a little more PG.”

She eyed him suspiciously and he held out his hands in protest.

“Seriously, I never actually listened to it properly and I assumed it was a radio edit. Something which sounds that depressing needs a nudge.” He grinned. “I prefer my version. Actually I prefer other bands but the piece needed a pop culture reference and that was the best I could come up with.”

She sighed. “Prefer what you want, but get the title right in the article. I’ve got a few other amendments. I’ll send them to you.”

She went back to her desk. It was a thankless task, but if no-one dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s then Gail teased and tapped the tame cat daily without halt and made him wail would become Gall leased and lapped lhe lame cal dally withoul hall and made hlm wall, and then where would the world be? Lost in a sea of meaningless words, that’s where. Some rules were meant to be broken, some meant to be broken only by the skilled, and some had to be obeyed if words were to be used in order to communicate effectively – or at all.


If you enjoyed this you might also like Literally vs Metaphorically a metafic in which the goddess Lingua hands out a punishment for the misuse of language.


I took a rather literal approach to the prompt, using the fact that i and t can, if not dotted and crossed, both be mistaken for a lowercase L (l), which, presumably, is where the phrase, meaning to pay attention to all the details, originates.

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