I was really glad when the summer holidays were over, and I’m a bit nervous we’re now into the school half-term holiday… and here’s why.
Every time someone misused the word ‘staycation’, a little piece of me died.
Okay, I’m exaggerating but only just.
As far as I’m concerned, a staycation is a holiday spent in your home. It’s a stay home vacation. A staycation.
I’m pretty sure that’s the original definition of the word and I’m backed up by various sources❡. Even Wikipedia, that bastion of all things etymological, lol, says: “This article is about a vacation where the people return home overnight. For a vacation taken within one's home country, see domestic tourism.” Burn.
But, increasingly, staycation is being used as a word to mean holidaying in your home country, and that just blows – my – mind.
This only really works for tiny countries such as the UK. Can you imagine being a resident of, say, Corpus Christi, Texas and calling your two-week trip to Tacoma, Washington a staycation?! It’s a distance of more than 2,000 miles. You’re not “staying” anywhere near your home.
Hmm. I’ve just talked myself into understanding why ‘staycation’ can be used in a country the size of the UK, which, compared with the USA, is so small that anywhere you go you are quite close to home. Lol.
But the thing about the UK is that, though it be small, it be mighty. It is rich and diverse in landscapes, environments, cultures, habits, accents, customs, and legends.
The week I spent on the windswept yet beautiful Shetland was nothing like the week I spent surfing* cerulean waves in Cornwall. And that was nothing like the weekend I recently spent in blowsy, buzzing Liverpool. Which is nothing like my matronly and somewhat staid hometown. You get the picture.
That’s my first problem – the claim that staying in the UK, no matter where you might be, is anything like staying at home.
My second objection to using the word so broadly is one involving privilege.
I was six when my mum and dad took me on our first family holiday. We stayed for a week in a farmhouse in Rutland, where I rode a horse for the first time, and saw a grass snake.
That was a holiday. My mum and dad didn’t have much cash and it was such a luxury to go away. Away being the operative word.
My second holiday was between seven and 10, when we stayed in a self-catering cottage, possibly in the Cotswolds. (My memory is so hazy I don’t even remember where it was!) There was a stable door to the cottage and a horseshoe on the wall inside. We were away on holiday.
My third family holiday was at the age of 10, when we stayed for a week in – oh joy of joys! – a hotel in Norfolk. We went boating on the canals, swam in the indoor pool and the other children teased my dad about his Scottish accent. We were, you’ve guessed it, away on holiday.
It wasn’t until I was 12 that I flew (alone! To visit an old schoolfriend) to Ireland, though that was Northern Ireland so still doesn’t count as being abroad☥.
And I was about 14 when my family and I finally made it to the extremely exotic town of Concarneau, in Brittany, France.
When I was in my 20s and living and working in London, I took a week off work and didn’t go anywhere. Or rather, I stayed at home but went visiting a couple of museums every day for a week. It was culturally enriching and hugely enjoyable. That was a staycation.
If you can leave your home and stay on a campsite, in a self-catering cottage or a hotel, avoiding chores, taking time off work, you are lucky to be able to afford to. You are on holiday. Some people don’t get to do that, and when they see folk talking about a ‘staycation’ they had the other end of the country, it can be a bit galling.
Basically, if you leave home, for however long, be it a weekend or a fortnight, you are on holiday. And this is the hill I will die on. 😁
❡ https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/staycation [Although stating a staycation can be taken “near your home” is rather open to interpretation]; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staycation; https://tourismteacher.com/staycation/#0-what-is-a-staycation
* Okay, body boarding. I’m not that cool.
☥ Though I stand to be corrected on this.
What do editors do?
It’s a fair question to ask, especially now we have things like acquisition editors, stream editors, life editors and even clothing editors…
And there are very big differences between the work a, say, newspaper editor does compared with a book’s copy editor.
I have spent more than 20 years as a sub editor*, fact checking copy in newspapers and magazines, cutting copy to fit the pages, ironing out poorly constructed sentences❡, and writing headlines and picture captions.
Now I edit websites and books (primarily fiction and creative non-fiction), and those two tasks are wildly different, too!
In this post, I’ll focus on book editing.
You’ve written your novel, and you’re happy with what you’ve done. But it will always need another pair of eyes before you launch it on the choppy publishing seas, seeking an agent or publisher. When you’ve worked on something for a while, you lose the ability to focus on its detail, or remain critical.
But you’ve heard of proofreaders, copyeditors, line editors and developmental editors. What do they all do?!
The developmental editor looks at the big picture, the story arc. They are not interested in the grammar nitty gritty – they are looking at character development, the strength of the story, whether it progresses, if the themes it contains match the genre the author is aiming for, consistency of viewpoint…
The developmental editor will offer a manuscript critique (aka an appraisal or assessment), which consists of an editorial report.
This does what it says on the tin☥ and can be a report of from two to 20 pages long, looking at character, point of view, theme, plot, pace, narrative style, etc, in greater detail. It summarises how the manuscript can be improved, with suggestions of how to strengthen weaker parts.
A developmental edit can also include an in-file edit, with tracked changes in the margins, and comments drawing attention to the specific bits that need looking at.
Your developmental editor will be able to explain what work they intend to carry out, and how much it will cost.
If you have a story but are not confident in your writing, or how to plot your tale, get a developmental editor on board. They will tease your ideas out and give them a coherent shape.
Your story is finished. You like how it is paced. Is your book ready to set sail on those stormy publishing seas? Nope.
We’re still not quite at the punctuation nitty gritty stage here, but a line editor does look at the sentence structure and writing style to make sure you’re using the best terms and language to convey your story in any one scene.
Are you using the correct point of view to impart a particular mood? Is the narrative distance drawing the reader in or leaving them untouched by your hero’s predicament? Are you repeating yourself? Does your punctuation match a paragraph’s tone?
If you’ve crafted the perfect story and just want to make sure it makes sense, hire a line editor. They’ll pick up the irrelevant paragraph, the scene which doesn’t add to the tension, and the splicing commas that slow the reader down.
The line editor fine tunes your writing to make your story sing.
Photo by George Milton from Pexels
This is where we get down to the nuts and bolts of your book’s structure. The copy editor looks closely at grammar, spelling, syntax, punctuation, etc. They make sure everything makes sense, that paragraphs are formatted correctly, that there are no single quotes where there should be doubles, that style is consistent… But there is a sort of lurching into line editor territory here, and a copy editor will point out where something doesn’t make sense or is ambiguous.
That’s it. Story finished. Edits incorporated. Paragraphs flowing beautifully one to another. Ready to set sail now?
You need that final proofread (a term derived from ‘galley proofs’, the first test printed pages of a book). The proofreader checks for typos, formatting errors, makes sure page numbers haven’t dropped off… It’s basically a final quality check.
So, once your book is a perfectly formed wee kernel of work, have it proofread.
You won’t necessarily need – or be able to afford! – all these services. You decide what you are after and hire accordingly.
Just be clear what you want from your editor and make sure they explain what they’ll be providing – and charging for.
* I was once a deputy chief sub editor, which a friend outside the industry laughed at, calling me the deputy manager deputy manager. He had a point.
❡ Of which there have been mercifully few, thanks to my talented former colleagues and co-workers
☥ Hopefully it will iron out hideous clichés like that one 😁
This is the bit where I write about wordy and linguistic things that take my fancy...