I think New Year’s Eve is probably the best time to reminisce, and so will accept your forgiveness in advance by describing a dream I had a quarter of a century ago, or so. At any rate, it was two or three years before I had a personal computer at home.
The imagery of the dream involved a computer screen. In the top right hand corner a bright yellow “sun” appeared about an inch and a half in diameter (or 40 mm, roughly). This yellowy—almost golden—ball left the screen and came bouncing towards me, in 3D. It bounced twice on the table before bouncing up and disappearing into my chest (more or less where my heart can be found). Upon waking, I had the feeling of immense joy.
What is remarkable is that in those days, computer screens were not the colourful affairs they are today. What is even more remarkable is that I had this particular dream twice more, with a couple of days between each. I can confirm that there was nothing at all unusual in my diet nor were any mood-altering substances involved.
People who knew at the time generally agreed that this was a good omen; I certainly took it to be one.
Fast forward to the present day, and I see that I took a screenshot at some time during the last six months, berating myself for finding so many typographical errors and sheer crappiness in what purported to be an almost final translation of mine. How did I know that there were more errors than usual? Well, because of the yellow blobs.
If you have not yet tried the yellow-blob method of textual revision, I urge you to do so at your earliest convenience. I do it all the time. When you are reading, and chance upon something wrong with the text, all you do is highlight the text concerned in yellow, and continue reading. This way, you manage to maintain your concentration on the text as a whole while still identifying all the places where it needs fixing.
Fast forward to a couple of days ago.
Yellow blobs are more popular than I had imagined.
So, it was with some surprise when I sent a comparative analysis of three English texts to a translator friend (versions 1, 2 and 3, with v3 being my attempt to knock the text into coherent shape). I sent the text with a note stating that I thought someone could still pick a few holes in it. A few minutes later, my colleague sent back version 3 with a note: “I have marked a few things”. It was not a long text (fewer than 300 words, I think), but of the six or seven yellow blobs he had affixed to these words at least three were areas where I had already had some doubts. We had a brief chat about each yellow blob.
I did not fix the areas identified immediately. Instead, I sent the unaltered text (yellow blobs and all) straight away to another esteemed translator, with a request that when she had time, to give me a comment or two on the text; just a short sentence about what she thought overall.
What she returned, and pretty promptly too, was a taut, well-muscled text sans pareil. I was absolutely delighted, because her changes taught me exactly where my shortcomings had been. Of course, when thanking her, I said that I certainly had not expected her to do a complete revision of the whole text, still less work on those yellow blobs. Her reply was, “Never underestimate the power of yellow blobs”. She said I could quote her.
A damn good editor if you want your text tightened up and a razor wit to boot. I gather she bakes a decent loaf of bread, too. Talking of which, I have a New Year’s Eve dinner to go to.
Every good wish for a successful and typo-free 2018 to all!
©2017 Allison Wright
Yes, I agree, yellow blobs are extremely helpful when editing one’s own work. I also used to use them when assessing student essays – not that it did any good!
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As I have already indicated, I am surprised at how widespread the use of yellow blobs is!