I fucked up my homework assignment for last Wednesday's editing class. I forgot about it over the long weekend and left it to try and do on the bus to class. We had been assigned an Aviation Magazine (or some such title) article to proofread at the lowest level of authority. This level of authority means that we query the author instead of researching and making changes and identify errors in spelling and grammar. We were advised to look for the really big mistakes more than the smaller mistakes, but the smaller mistakes are important as well.
In the second paragraph, the article said that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were used in Vietnam. I thought this sounded bogus, so I circled it to be queried.1 I continued reading and scanning but only got to the end of the first page before I had to stop as the train had filled up and I had to fight to get off at my stop.
After being chided by the instructor for not completing the assignment, I felt like an ass. I was saved, sort of, when the instructor learned that most of the class had slacked on this assignment as well and gave us another week to work on it. I glanced at the article during the class break after our proofreading marks quiz and spotted the big mistake she had kept trying to get us to notice: the article has no conclusion.2 The article cruises on discussing the merits, flaws, uses, and designs of UAVs but ends without a conclusion two paragraphs after starting a new topic in the UAV discussion. This article was not a draft, it was a final copy that was printed. Somebody got righteously shafted for this one.
1 Having just searched "UAVs used in Vietnam", I am surprised to say that I was wrong about that one. You learn something new every day.
2 I am still not sure whether I like editing and proofreading because it is a whole career that will be spent telling people how wrong they are or because it is a vital role in crafting pieces of art like Motherless Brooklyn or 1984, both of which I happen to reading now.3
3 I am also reading From the Notebooks of Doctor Brain. Fun stuff.