Thursday, December 28, 2006

The difference between 'it's' and 'its'

I always know before opening the envelope of a returned submission, whether I've been successful or not. It's the thickness you see: the thicker ones generally indicate failure and the thinner ones, a degree or two of success.

Today's return was a failure - and the briefest of notes on the typed letter pointing out the difference between it's - it is, and the commonly confused its - the possessive, which it seems my internal editor never quite got the hang of. And tucked behind the refusal were the poems, first of which included the offending piece.

My guess is that the editor read this one, and probably didn't read the rest. I'm not sure whether re-submitting other poems to the journal will prove productive, as I've probably tarnished myself with that particular editor - forever to remain 'the person with the problem with grammar.'

Even with my trusty Strunk and White, Elements of Style for reference, there will always be that time that I make boo-boos. For this I blame, if there should be such a thing, my imperfect English on the cross-cultures in our house: two languages in circulation seem to have made for a poorer grasp of both sets of rules!

7 comments:

Rob said...

The it's/its thing can press people's buttons in a bad way if you get it wrong. Especially if yours is the 25th manuscript of the week to make the same mistake. It's an easy mistake to make.

But I don't think most editors will hold longstanding grudges on something like that. I'd wait a couple of months and submit new poems. And triple-check your its/ it's!

Cailleach said...

Thanks Rob - 'it's' a mistake I shall never make again, for sure :)

I know well how these things can irritate so, like that I will wait until the memory has dimmed a little!

Minx said...

Give it to three other people to read before you send it out. Your own editor will never pick up everything!
Having said that - don't waste time thrashing yourself with a homemade cat o' nine tails - send it off again, and be damned!

Cailleach said...

Good point minx! Volunteering then..? ;)

Debi said...

I'll happily volunteer!

It's chastening to realise what a difference it can make. You think it shouldn't really matter ... but it does!

Feel free to make use of my proofreading skills ...

Nothingman said...

It is a confusing matter altogether. The "it's" and "its"
I prefer using it is wherever i can....still it is confusing :)
I hope someday i'll get hang of it.

briliantdonkey said...

I would just live and learn from it. If they took the time to send you the proper way of doing things,he probably senses that it's just an oversight on your part. Fix it, wait a bit and send it out to other people if not this same one. Don't feel too bad about it. I think we all have 'our things'. For instance for the life of me I can NOT remember how to spell 'their' to save my life. Even just now I had to backspace try it with the 'i' before the 'e' and see which way looked right.Just keep on learning and plugging away.

Just my 2 cents for what it is worth. Btw, I found you via Minx and re: your clarity of night entry, thanks for submitting. I really enjoyed your story.

BD