This is What I’ve Been Up To

by jen on July 31, 2015

Ugh. I have been the biggest hypocrite. Here I am telling everyone else to blog regularly, and what have I been doing? Certainly not blogging regularly on this site. However, I have an excuse! I’ve been creating content for fotoskribe, this really awesome content marketing service for photographers. I also wrote this post for the agency about creating well written, effective blogs, so check it out!

Fotoskribe: Creating an Effective Blog: Writing as a Photographer


sidoncounterI started to compose a list of my biggest editing pet peeves, and it got me thinking about how much I focus on the negative.

When I was in middle school, I had a friend whose mother didn’t like me. I really couldn’t understand why. I was polite and I got good grades. My friend told me it was my “negative attitude.” I had no idea what the heck that meant as a kid. I guess this woman didn’t find biting, sarcastic wit adorable on a 13 year old.

This idea of having a negative attitude didn’t seem as bad as say, pressuring her kid to do drugs or skip class. I mean, I dressed as an archaeologist for Halloween in sixth grade. Who would prevent their child from spending time with someone like that?

But you know, this girl’s mom was right in a sense — I have an outlook that does favor the negative and that shaped me into the editor I am today. However, I now have a positive attitude toward my razor-like negative focus. Rah Rah, I’m critical! I’m judgmental! I often feel like I’m living my best life when I’m finding mistakes.

Here’s the thing that my friend’s mother didn’t know. It’s one thing to find the fault, but it’s meaningless if you can’t think of a better way. Pointing out the problems is just one step. The little known secret to being an editor (a good one) is being an idealist. I might find the fault, but I also imagine how it should be.

So, instead of that deliciously mean-spirited pet peeves list I originally set out to write, here’s a list of things about editing and writing that will never end up on a pet peeves list:

  1. The English language is a living language, and it’s flexible enough to change and take on new words — like selfie.
  2. You don’t have to follow all the grammar rules all the time. End your sentences with prepositions. Go wild.
  3. Getting a turd of a piece and helping it transform into gold.
  4. Finding the shortest, pithiest way to convey something. This is the most fun you can ever have.
  5. Typos are easily corrected. However, “pubic option” is the best typo ever and should not be corrected.
  6. Flawed copy equals work for me, which equals good.
  7. Getting to be the first person to read something really, really good.

So what are some of your positives about editing?



It’s all in how you say it…

by jen on November 10, 2014

elsie saysI have always found that ”you statements” are counterproductive to effective communication. Such statements as” you never do the dishes!” practically guarantee that the subject of the statement will never do the dishes. I have been known to slam a door like a bratty teen who’s been grounded just in time for the homecoming dance at the sound of “you need to…” or “you should…” Really. Don’t tell me to do anything unless there’s a kitten attached to it.

These “you statements” are often used to pass negative judgment, and they trigger defensive reactions, like possibly voting against a public policy initiative. According to a new study by Columbia University psychologists, public policy proposals that addressed ”people” sparked support in the research subjects far more than when a policy used the second-person plural. A policy is likely to be more effective if people don’t think they’re the target, rather, the policy is inclusive. It’s about them, and all of us  — not just you. 

“When phrasing of the rationale for public policy uses the second-person plural, and thus induces participants to consider themselves one of the targets of these policies, support for them drops,” contends James Cornwell and David Krantz in the journal Judgment and Decision Making.

So, these little grammatical nips and tucks — the how something is said — can actually make all the difference in how you get support for the things you say. 







Just so you know, the title of this post is an homage to the “Welcome Back Kotter” theme, which is, and I will fight you on this, the best TV theme song ever next to the ones from “The Greatest American Hero” and ”WKRP in Cincinnati,” of course.

This is the new and improved Can’t Fight City Hall. I originally began this blog in grad school. I meant it to be an extension of my thesis  — women in leadership and how the media portrays them. Somehow, though, this blog flew wildly off course and turned into something of a “Miserable and the Syracuse.” I do not want to be Saddy Sadshaw, and I’m not in Syracuse anymore.

I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue the women/leadership/media thing, but I’m happy to see Sheryl Sandberg carrying that torch for me. My 100-page case study of Nancy Pelosi said all those things people who care about women and media are still saying. I passed the defense. Now I want to write something even closer to my heart. I know what you’re thinking: What could be closer than Nancy Pelosi owning your soul for a year? Well, writing and editing is closer to my heart than that.

In the past few months I’ve had a pretty big epiphany about myself. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and that’s what I set out to do from the time I was a wee thing. It’s time to get back to basics, time to be myself, and write. This blog is dedicated to writing — the good, the bad, and the lonely existence of caring about how words are spelled when the rest of the world is clearly against you.