Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The joy of subs
When you are a trainee journalist (or at least - 35 years ago when I was a trainee journalist) you are taught not to make basic errors because your copy goes through a lot of stages before it sees daylight in a newspaper. (Many more than the stages it then goes through to end up wrapped round fish and chips!)
At every stage you are likely to be hauled (verbally) from your desk and bawled out publicly to 'teach you a lesson'.
The copy correction process is called subbing, because it is carried out by sub-editors, known as subs, and everyone who ever worked in newspapers understands that.
Today I read a blog comment about editing a novel and the writer kept using the word 'subbing'. It confused me, because they didn't mean subbing - they meant submitting. And my subs always used to tell me that if your writing confuses the reader - it's bad.
Do you want to know the really depressing thing? This person is a published author. A 'proper' novelist. Clearly the people at the publishers haven't put them straight on what subbing really is. Perhaps they don't know either, which is deeply disturbing for me because it carries a worrying implication.
Maybe I shall never be a novelist because it seems I don't speak the same language any more.