Monday, April 4, 2016

Word nerd vacation: The word nerd part

When I told people I was going to an editing conference, they would first look at me strangely, and then they would have to concentrate their efforts on keeping the look of incredulity from taking control of their face. Editors have conferences? What do they do—talk about commas for three days?

Yes, editors have conferences, just like every other nerd community. And while we certainly enjoy discussing commas (although we've learned to keep the serial comma debate to the minimum—it can get rather dangerous), editors touch so many parts of the writing/publication process and language changes so much that continuing education is a must.

But that's only a small justification for going to an editing conference. The real reason is so you can be surrounded by fellow word nerds. We're an interesting group; we care passionately about things normal people don't even think about. And when you're in the minority like that, it's soothing and rejuvenating to band together, whether it be to commiserate, learn from one another, or to just have a good time.

I joined the American Copy Editors Society (called ACES for short, which is just punny enough to be appropriate for its audience) last fall for all of these reasons. (Okay, and I wanted an excuse to go to Portland in the spring.)

Before the opening session even started, I knew I was in the right place. These were my people. They took the written word seriously. Laughed appreciatively at language-related jokes. Let out the loudest communal groan I've ever heard when this billboard was brought up:

Images of this sign in the hotel also circulated Twitter, with many wondering who the honored guest could be:

The big announcement of the event was that the AP Stylebook is going to start lowercasing Internet. This news was met with gasps and cheers—I kid you not, this is a huge deal in our world.

Each of us faced difficult decisions every day, with several intriguing sessions often claiming the same time slot. I took half a notebook of notes on freelancing, working with self-published authors, Microsoft Word tips, Google research tools, the future of copy editing, and more, drinking in the experience of being in a classroom environment again with other editors.

Everyone should belong to a group of similar nerds; it's good for the soul.

655 people registered for the conference. The role of the editor may be changing, but you can't make us disappear. (P.S. I'm in there somewhere—can you find me?)

But we weren't there to just work. Editors like their jobs, but we like to play too. And Portland was ready to deliver.

Stay tuned.


  1. What the heck? The Internet is becoming the internet?!?! That's huge!