I’ve been working on editing a book for an expert, and it’s led me to some self-examination as I work.
Editing isn’t just making sure grammar and spelling are correct. There is some correcting involved, but one must be careful not to change the “voice” of the writer. For example, the expert I’m working with right now is more of an “in your face,” “I am right,” “I don’t care if you disagree” kind of person, so as I edit, I need to preserve that voice. Sometimes, it’s not a matter of making it grammatically perfect; some imperfections will carry that voice through and make it resonate.
This doesn’t mean that most grammar and spelling mistakes shouldn’t be corrected. It just means you need to take the time to know the person you are working with so that you don’t lose their personality in the writing process.
For aspiring writers, this is important to talk about with a prospective proofreader/editor before you hire them. You want someone skilled at spelling/grammar, but you want someone who is not so inflexible that they erase “you” from your writing.
I am known for being a “spell-freak” and “word nerd,” but I am ok with intentional misspellings that convey a certain mood, tone, or idea because that is a person’s intention and voice. Errors from sloppiness and laziness, on the other hand, will not pass my red pencil.
Too many people today think spelling, grammar, and proper writing are not important. We need to be careful not to buy into that because if we do, we soon will have nothing “properly” written anymore available to us to read. It’s not old-fashioned, people! Times change, yes, but there are basic principles that should never change.