The Red Pen

January 5, 2005

My current students are waiting for the day when I chronicle my teaching experience in a book. I'm told that this book should be entitled, The Red Pen

I am known for using the red pen liberally on student work. I underline the first letter of every uncapitalized proper noun with three parallel red lines. I indicate words to delete with a red flourish and missing periods fall from the ballpoint like rain. As my students advance in years I even periodically employ the dreaded "awk." in the margin. Awk.— it is, in itself, an awkward editing mark that somehow always makes sense to the editor, but often requires copious amounts of clarification with the writer. 

At this point I've spent untold hours of my life with a red pen in hand. I've stayed up late and awoken horribly early to use this stalwart editing device. It has been employed on planes, trains, and automobiles. Even as I type this there awaits a stack of composition books eager for editing marks and regardless of what other tasks may be at hand, you can be sure that the red pen and I will carve out some time today to oblige them.

No comments: