I admit that I do wield a certain flourish as I click the pen top and get ready to circle-underline-correct-suggest.
The pen is my ultimate tool. In a writing class, I can lecture, provide examples, and assign exercises, but most of the learning takes place when I sit beside a student and show him or her how an existing piece of writing could be improved. This doesn’t mean editing the paper for the student but rather simply highlighting places where he or she can focus more attention.
I don’t like to think of my pen as an attack against the student, though. When I click my pen top, the student and I are entering the writing together, and we are seeking ways to slash away the errors and defend the parts of the essay that don’t need as much work. We are doing the bold work of revision, which does require a certain bravery.
The next time you have to edit your own writing, go forth with courage and confidence. Hold your pen with pride or type your keys with commanding fingers. The process may be violent and difficult, but you must remember that you are defending the English language from ignorance and laziness.
(Photo by jonathanb1989)