College writing instructor, editor, composer, lyricist, satirist, playwright, essayist, musical arranger and textbook author with an MFA in writing from the University of Virginia and 30 years' experience is available to edit your master's thesis or dissertation, business proposal, research paper, speech, novel, manual, booklet, report, personal statement, script or advertisement, or write music and lyrics to your songs, and score any arrangements. I've edited personal statements from candidates for graduate schools, and have helped successfully place clients applying to Harvard and Stanford Universities.
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I have recently edited:
• doctoral dissertations on patent litigation and nursing management
• masters' theses on computer servers and social geography
• medical journal articles on pediatrics
• a podcast script on marijuana entrepreneurs
• a business proposal for hydroelectric power in Africa
• a series of engineering reports for the federal government on soil contamination
• an advertisement for a new day spa in New York City
• a magazine article on women empowerment in India
• a book on child psychology
• a booklet on the power of positive thinking
• a magazine article on violence against women
In addition, I've written newspaper articles, dozens of plays, hundreds of songs, and countless satirical essays on social and political issues. My rates are just 3 cents a word for standard copy editing. This is NOT for mere proofreading. My work entails:
• rewriting sentences when necessary to improve fluency and sophistication
• cleaning up grammar and usage
• eliminating redundancies, superfluous writing and archaic word choices
• suggesting more appropriate vocabulary
• formatting, and improving the overall look of your project
Editing examples and sample comments:
ORIGINAL: The same principle whether or not I could lead others for the better was applied when I was choosing my first job.
EDITED: Likewise, when I chose my first job, I considered first whether or not I would have the opportunity to lead others and enrich lives.
ORIGINAL: I did not feel motivated to apply to those companies because I did not find such work meaningful.
EDITED: I did not feel motivated to apply to those companies because it would not have been as fulfilling to me.
ORIGINAL: As illustrated in these two examples, a bigger picture of what I am doing and where my life is heading is very important to me. Likewise, as a person, I try to be resourceful and helpful.
EDITED: You might not need to say “as a person”….. we know you’re not a monkey!
ORIGINAL: I was a mentor. I visited middle and high schools to make a presentation about majoring Education in college, helping students decide what to study in college
EDITED: “…lives in Korea, mentoring high school students about their college majors.
ORIGINAL: I like the way my values have thus far led my decisions and my life, and I assume that they will keep my life on the right track like a lighthouse.
EDITED: This is what we call mixing metaphors (right track and lighthouse). Also, ‘assume’ is a weak word here. Another option is….. “I trust that they will act as a beacon of light, drawing me ever closer to my ultimate goals.”
ORIGINAL: Many of his questions are the things regarding the text books, and at the same time, those were related with advanced concepts that is already had written in another advanced books. He made such his own original thinking at the very time after my lectures end without any help.
EDITED: Many of his questions pertained to advanced concepts that students were not yet expected to understand, but his curiosity and passion for learning prompted him to go above and beyond what we were studying at the time.
ORIGINAL: It has been three years when he talked me that he wants study more but he couldn’t for his circumstance.
EDITED: I was not surprised with his decision because it was something that I had encouraged him to do for years.
When Words Can Mean Anything
I don’t know what anyone is talking about anymore!
I hear people referring to a good friend as “bad,” a thin girl as “phat,” a great movie as a “bomb.” Any time I lament the decline of the English language, however, and complain about the confusion that results from people using language incorrectly, someone will invariably chime in with the obvious cliché: “language changes!”
Well of COURSE language changes! That’s obvious, but saying this is a little like cutting off your nose, and when asked why you did it, you respond by saying “Hey, people change!”
Not only DOES language change, it MUST change, but there is a real difference between stupid change, and smart change. Smart change is modifying the language to help express things that could not have been expressed before, such as 'email,' 'cyberspace' and 'software.' There were no terms for these just a few decades ago, and they had to be invented… which is a bad thing. (and by 'bad' I really mean 'good')
Stupid change, on the other hand, is using words to mean the opposite of their known meaning, or taking words that already have a meaning, but changing it to the point where no one knows what you are talking about.
Take for example, the word 'vegetarian.' A perfectly good word (here I really do mean 'good'), meaning one who eats only plant-based food: no fish, beef, milk, eggs or cheese. Tragically, this perfectly fine word has been misused so often that it has come to mean a non-meat eater, although since most people don’t consider fish to be meat, they can actually eat animals and still feel as if they are morally superior to those who eat poultry, pork and beef. The ugly word 'vegan' has now come to mean what vegetarian has always meant to begin with: one who doesn’t eat animals or anything that comes from an animal. Now, I really have no idea when someone says she’s a vegetarian because I don’t know if she is using it in its original context, the modified and incorrect modern use, or some kind of pathetic hybrid. This has not enhanced communication; it has obfuscated it.
'Decimated' is another fine word that is falling by the wayside. From the root meaning 'ten,' the word 'decimated' means to destroy 10% of something. If a tornado wiped out 100 houses out of 1000, you could correctly say that the neighborhood or village was decimated. Today, however, so many people use decimated to mean 'destroyed' or 'obliterated' that I have no idea what they’re talking about now when they use the word. Stupid change.
A few weeks ago I had a conversation in a bar with a young man on the subject of rap. I don’t have anything against rap, and I even like some of it, I just don’t call it 'music' because it’s not. There is no music there. There is no tune. They are words recited to a beat; It is poetry, some of it very good poetry, but poetry, not music. My young friend, however, said that rap is music because they call it music, which reminded me of the Abraham Lincoln quotation: “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? 5? No….4….. because calling a tail a leg does not it make it one.”
“Yes,” the young man insisted. “ ‘High’ is ‘low’ and ‘low’ is ‘high’…. words can mean anything you want them to mean.” Unfortunately, he doesn’t get it. When words can mean “anything,” they cease to have any meaning at all.
We’re Getting Warmer!
We’re not in the ice age anymore my friends. The evidence is overwhelming. The ice caps and glaciers are melting, the oceans are rising, average temperatures of the air and water continue to increase, bizarre weather patterns have become the norm.
And still, there are detractors.
Of course, that is part of what makes the world go around. Someone is going to always disagree with what seems obvious to most. There are those who still believe the earth is flat, that men never walked on the moon, that the pyramids were constructed by aliens from outer space, and that Donald Trump is a good choice for president. And, of course, there are those who say that global warming is just another liberal scheme to get citizens dependent on the government . They say that temperatures have always gone in cycles, and even if the earth is getting warmer, we had nothing to do with it, and cannot change it anyway.
Never mind the fact that 90% of all scientists affirm that global warming is a fact. And let’s ignore for a moment a still more obvious fact, that humans can and have contributed to the phenomenon. Still…. Are the proposed solutions really that unpalatable? Would it cause anyone great harm if we were to comply with the very logical recommendations set forth by the scientific community? What exactly would it take to help slow the rate of global warming?.... cutting down factory emissions, creating increasingly fuel efficient cars, encouraging the use of alternative modes of transportation (including bicycles and electric vehicles), reducing the use of electricity, using alternative, cleaner forms of fuel and energy such as tidal and wind power, reducing coal emissions….and the list goes on.
The way I see it, the question of whether global warming is a fact…. doesn’t matter in the end. The solutions that will help slow the process are good for us all and ought to be embraced.
Lawyers and other primordial parasites
I hate lawyers! Lawyers are the reason it’s so hard to find trampolines, pools with deep ends, high dive boards, hot coffee. They’ve paralyzed businesses, frightening them into inaction, to the point where businesses do nothing that could possibly injure even the most cautious of patrons, lest they call their blood-sucking Neanderthals in Armani suits.
Those who bring the lawsuits to court will often claim
“Oh, it isn’t for the money, it’s the principle of the thing.”
"Oh really? Great, glad to hear it, then donate any winnings to your favorite charity…but do it publicly because you know how people talk…some naysayer will probably think you just plunked down your winnings on a custom made Winnebago and a time share condo in Myrtle Beach.
You’ve all heard commercials asking “have you been injured in an accident”? What could be more despicable than a lawyer encouraging people to become angry enough to take someone to court….and over accidental damage, at that? Obviously no one intended to injure anyone, or damage anyone’s property. Why make the perpetrator's life more miserable than it already is, by dragging him through a messy trial and bleeding him dry? Oh, right, because the lawyer needs another vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard.
There are a number of things we can do:
1. Make advertising for lawyers illegal. It used to be. At one time, it was thought beneath the dignity of a lawyer to beg for business. There is something about it that faintly hints of a used car salesman, when a lawyer goes on TV and asking people to let him pursue a doctor who botched the botox on your latest plastic surgery.
2. Require the person who brings the suit to pay the entire court costs for both sides up front, getting a refund only if he wins.
3. Most importantly, make it illegal for the lawyer to take a percentage of damages. All fees must be stated and agreed to from the beginning. Without the allure of a huge settlement of which the lawyer can take a sizeable cut, lawyers will lose their incentive to encourage frivolous lawsuits.
Then, and only then, can the world resume some semblance of normalcy.
Do pregnancy, illness and bereavement entitle employees to special privileges?
Every few seconds, another baby is born. Yea! Ok, I’ll avoid the temptation to be cynical (saying something like “What are babies good for?” or “Why bring yet another screaming baby into this hellish world?”) It does seem rather odd, however, that many employers offer extraordinarily generous benefits—namely, to be absent from work, with FULL PAY, for one, two or even three months!!! Yes, you heard correctly. You have a baby, and suddenly you are entitled to collect the same pay you would have received, had you been working???? That’s a good gig if you can get it!
Does this not seem just a tad unfair, not just to all the men, but the single and unpregnant women in the workforce, as well ? What is their compensation for NOT having had a baby? And how exactly does pregnancy benefit the employer? Some people say pregnancy is a wonderful thing, and a benefit to society. Well, that may be. I don’t see it, but whether it is or not, how does that benefit your employer, who lets you have all that time off? How does it benefit the workers who don’t have, don't want, or can't have children? How are you more entitled to time off, for doing the same work?
Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with them getting time off. I'm simply asking why their co-workers shouldn't have the same privileges.
For that matter, why even have sick leave? Doesn’t that unfairly reward the lazy or dishonest people who call in sick when they are not?…. Doesn’t it likewise reward the people who may be hard working but are often indisposed to work because of frequent or chronic illnesses?
And speaking of time off, why have bereavement leave to attend funerals of the dear departed? Are employees with a plethora of dying relatives more entitled to time off than those who have few, if any, relatives, or those who don’t care about the relatives they DO have, and wouldn’t attend one of their funerals if their favorite reality TV show was on at the same time?
Having an open ended, one-size-fits-all leave plan is more efficient, helps people be honest, and best of all, treats everyone equally, regardless of gender, health, or even how many elderly dying relatives they may have. I would personally opt for six weeks off a year for all workers, two of it mandatory, with four weeks being accumulative. That way, employees could all have a much-needed vacation, but could use the four weeks per year for whatever they wished: pregnancy leave, bereavement leave, vacation time, sick leave, or just a few mental health days to prevent them from “going postal” on their co-workers. It seems the best solution.... if treating everyone equitably is important to you.
Everyone's a Doctor!
Everyone is a doctor today….at least that is the impression one might get by the number of people introduce themselves as such. In fact, about the only ones I know who DON’T call themselves doctors, are some doctors… doctors with real credentials and enough confidence to know that titles are a superfluous means of elevating one’s self-esteem. But doctors who are not doctors are crawling out of the woodwork! Dentists call themselves “doctors.” They’re not doctors. A chiropractor calls himself “doctor.” He’s not one, either! I went to the optometrist the other day and the first thing she said was “Hello, I’m Doctor Hahn.” Doctor? Mmm, sorry. An ophthalmologist is an eye doctor. An optometrist is a person who checks people’s vision for glasses. Even a basketball player, with a PhD in physical education calls himself a doctor! One of my best friends is a real doctor who works as a research scientist, curing diseases. When his graduate students call him “Dr. Smith,” he always corrects them. “Just call me ‘John,’” he tells them. Why does he need a title? He doesn’t depend on meaningless titles to gain respect. He is respected. Now there are even PhD programs for nurses. Imagine the fun trying to sort out that at the hospital before surgery!
“The doctor will be with you in a moment.”
“The doctor? Oh, but…I thought the nurse was going to prep me for surgery!”
"Yes, the nurse will be here.”
“Oh, not the doctor?”
“Yes, the doctor. The nurse IS a doctor. Dr. Wang has a PhD in nursing.”
“So… if both the doctor—the real doctor—and the nurse, who calls herself a doctor but is not one, were both in the room at the same time, and I called out 'doctor,' who would answer?”
“Both of them. It would be elitist of the doctor to think such a title is his exclusive domain! He’s not the only one who worked hard to get where he is!”
“Well, for that matter, the janitor probably works harder than anyone in the hospital! Should I call him a doctor, too?”
“No of course not. That would be silly.”
“Refer to him as the resident expert in anti-microbial engineering.”
Skin tone, and other misplaced priorities
I'm sure you've all heard someone say "I'm going to work on my tan!" I can't help but wonder what exactly they are "working" on. It seems to me that such labor generally consists of lying on the beach, and, perhaps less often, sitting or squatting, but it all pretty much amounts to the same inactivity that inflicts a large percentage of tan seekers. It's always amazed me, anyway, how society places such importance on skin color.
Over the years, it has changed, of course. A century ago, young white women in polite society, carried around parasols in sunny weather, to prevent their skin from becoming dark or freckled. These days, much to their detriment, it has become fashionable to soak up the rays and become dark.
In the movie "The Talented Mr. Ripley," the very tanned Jude Law, upon seeing the very UNtanned Matt Damon, remarked disparagingly..."You are sooooo white!"
It was not a compliment.
Unfortunately, the societal pendulum which has swung in a decidedly darker direction does not bode will for tan seekers. Note to sun worshippers everywhere: skin becomes dark under the sun's rays as a negative reaction to being poisoned by the ultraviolet rays of the sun!
People! This is not a good thing!
One of the supreme ironies of life is that all those things that we need to survive (such as the sun) also kill us! The sun is not something it's particularly wise to expose your skin to. It can lead to all kinds of radiation poisoning that wrinkles the skin, causes cancer, and decreases longevity.
The next time you are tempted to lie in the sun and get a tan, spend eight bucks, get an umbrella, and shade yourself from the celestial orb which is doing its utmost to shorten your time on planet Earth.