I work as a writing tutor at my college. If you ignore the sounds of wailing and gnashing of teeth in the background, it’s a really fun place. There are nerds galore and people who actually know who Steinbeck and Khaled Hosseini are. One girl, who will remain nameless (Ester), even hosts Lord of the Ring parties. Needless to say, I’m among my people.
In this place full of literature, MLA formatting, and wonder, I enjoy my life and my job and helping people improve their writing. Most people come out of our sessions happier than they came in, with that I’m-going-to-die expression wiped cleanly off their little college faces. Most of the time, people are grateful for my help. Most of the time, people are glad to hear my words of wisdom, for teaching them how to fix their writing issues.
Sometimes, they aren't.
Sometimes, they think I’m an editor, or a machine, because I’m an English Major. Sure, I have Super Comma Mistake Vision, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go through and mark up every mistake you make. And no, before you try to point it out, that’s not my job. I’m not an Editing Tutor. I’m a Writing Tutor. I help you write better. As in, I’m not going to do the work for you.
What’s that? You don’t want to revise your thesis because the paper is due in two hours?
You think your writing is perfect and you don’t see the need for an organization revision?
I’ll tell you why. Your content has problems. It’s not the commas—though they’re not flawless, to be sure (no one’s are)—it’s that you don’t give a crap about what you’re writing, and I can tell. I’m a Word Choice master. I’m picking up on the “screw you Professor What’s-your-name” context clues.
Now, let’s try imbuing those context clues in the paper with a more positive message.
This is a call to respect Tutors, Teachers, and Professors everywhere! If I told you all the annoying stories I’ve collected in working with/teaching other students, I’d have you crying, laughing, and feeling guilty.
Hmm. Now there’s a thought.
Agent 00Comma—Tales from the Grammar Front lines—on Thursdays, anyone?