Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I spy with my camera eye...

Amidst the preparations in my household for baby number two in roughly six weeks (a girl this time, which I think I’ve failed to mention here before), a number of transitions have already begun on the home front. Among them has been moving my two-year-old in to a new bedroom. Not just any bedroom though—it’s his bigger, better, “big boy” room! We talked it up for weeks as our previous guest room transformation gradually occurred. And while I am reluctant to type it for fear of jinxing things, he has done well with it the first month and is quite proud of his new digs! (Hence the cheesy, squinty-eyed grin.)

At the same time, keeping an ear out for what will soon be two kids down the hall at night also led us to purchase a second baby monitor. This time, we decided to buy a video monitor (which we may return given the battery doesn’t last through the night, the camera sometimes doesn’t work and the built in thermometer is way off…but that’s just par for the course for this consumer). Yet while I think I like having this new capability, I’m still debating a bit.

My husband and I never considered a video monitor much until hearing from a few people who had them as well as seeing one at our nephew’s home. Plus, given that we would hear him awake and talking, singing, etc. (but still in bed, thankfully) for sometimes more than an hour after we said goodnight and turned out the light, we were mostly just curious to find out what was going on in there! The result has actually been some comical reality TV right in our own home. And more functionally, it has been nice when we hear him in the middle of the night to just flip the video on to see if he’s still laying down or if we need to go to him.

But I also admit to feeling a little sneaky watching him in there. So, what do you think…am I invading my toddler’s privacy? Is there such thing as “toddler privacy?” (If my son’s barging into the bathroom any time I don’t lock the door is any indication, he has no concept of the word…though I’ve explained it several times.) Certainly it’s not something that we plan to keep up with for years to come, but at least for now, I feel it might bring us a little extra ease and peace of mind as our family life gets a bit more complicated (and exhausting) in the months ahead.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Writing, red ink & the occasional mishap

Happy National Grammar Day! Given the nature of my job and background, I love that this day exists. While I still ask my colleagues about commas (which I tend to overuse) and capitalization on occasion, I’d like to think I have a decent grasp of the English language. A few people even appreciate that about me. That’s probably why I’m often asked to review/edit things written by my friends and family.

While I’m happy to oblige, I always have to think carefully about how much I’m going to throw myself into one of these editing favors. I sometimes wonder… How much feedback do they really want? Should I be brutally honest with them?

When a colleague comes to me with a communication draft I can go gangbusters—sometimes completely rewriting it. I can, because it’s my job. If there was an Extreme Makeover: Copywriting Edition, I think some of my transformations might qualify. I’d like to think I’ve become a pro at constructive criticism and tactful feedback on writing (unless the communication is accompanied by clip art). And just this morning I had to have a heart-to-heart with a colleague after an inexcusable punctuation error in a newspaper ad.

Personally, I’ve developed a pretty thick skin when it comes to editing (and specifically, being edited) because I know it’s just part of the business. I remember early in my first internship after college, my boss edited a press release I’d written. There was more red ink than black ink on the page and I was devastated. Here I was planning to build my whole career on writing and I thought I’d completely failed at this task.

But over time I learned that’s part of the process. We learn from mistakes. Plus, different people have different writing styles and sometimes we have to bend to those (while still standing up for solid strategy and other non-negotiables).

I often think back to that internship experience when I edit things for others. I don’t want my feedback to make them feel like they messed up. Chances are the intended recipient isn’t going to look at the writing with as critical an eye as I have been trained to do. So as with anything, considering the audience is important. This blog, for instance, is my opportunity to be more laid back. Most of you don’t care if I use commas correctly. And there’s no need for you to point out my grammatical errors because I don’t really care. And that’s a big deal coming from this perfectionist.

So thanks for humoring me (and Jen) by reading our random thoughts and giving us each a break from the eagle eye. And in turn, when I see you overuse exclamation points or use 10 words to say something that could’ve been said with five, I’ll probably just keep my mouth shut.