Editing: The Human Touch

Here’s a blog post I wrote for the Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders, and Indexers.

It explores how a positive and collaborative working process between the author and the editor benefits the work and the ultimate end user: the reader.

Editing: The Human Touch

Enjoy!

Our Human Is Still Here

Our human

Our human is still here.
He’s rattling around the house.
We can’t even find the time
To go hunt for a mouse.

Our human is still here.
He lunges and he dances.
It’s ain’t easy being a cat
In these trying circumstances.

Our human is still here.
He’s mouthing off on social media.
Now he passes his time
Reading an encyclopaedia.

Our human is still here.
He’s become quite the dosser.
He tries to expand his mind
But he’s just a silly tosser.

Our human is still here.
He tries to cook a Sunday roast.
All this from the gourmet
Who can incinerate toast.

Our human is still here.
He’s putting on a little weight.
We’re not saying that he’s fat,
But we’ll need a wider gate.

Our human is still here.
He’s sewing his own mask.
And as for that haircut,
Well, it’s best not to ask…

Our human is still here.
He’s counting the stars above.
We think he might be starved of
That thing humans call love.

Our human is still here.
If this doesn’t end soon
We’ll simply have to drop him
Down in a six-foot cocoon.

Our human is still here.
He’s out digging the weeds,
And proclaiming to the world
About his tiniest of deeds.

Our human is still here.
He hasn’t caught any mice.
But he knows how many grains
Are in the packet of rice.

At last, the lockdown’s over!
And he is up over the moon.
Where the hell is our human?
It must be dinnertime soon!

(c) Pádraig Hanratty

 

Love in a Time of Coronavirus

Covid cat

“Why are you still here,”
Asked the cat,
“Walking around the house
Dressed like that?”

“We must stay together
By staying apart,
So we can flatten the curve
On the COVID chart.”

“Why are you still here,”
Asked the cat,
“Walking around the house
Dressed like that?”

“We must keep our distance
While staying close,
So we don’t catch
That COVID dose.”

“Why are you still here,”
Asked the cat,
“Walking around the house
Dressed like that?”

“It’s only been four weeks!
Why must you whinge?
Come here and join me
In a box(ed) set binge.”

“We’ve got the all clear!
We can finally go out!
I’ll see you later!
I’m gonna wander about!”

“Where the hell are you going,”
Asked the cat,
“Walking around the streets
Dressed like that?”

(c) Padraig Hanratty

From a (Social) Distance

For many of us, the distance is more than social on Mother’s Day.
#ProtectYourMother
#KeepYourDistance

Mam

A Sunday dinner, then tea and cake,
Ties that bind and cannot break.
A story told, a laugh or smile,
Or gentle silence for a while.
A special gift, now and then.
Now she has gone home again.

Someone to talk to any day,
Someone to help in any way.
A warm fire on a winter night,
An ice-cold drink in summer bright.
A sturdy coat for the pouring rain.
Now she has gone home again.

An emptiness is left behind,
Lost things you will never find.
But a memory of what she’d say
Helps you through another day.
Away from us, down the lane,
On her way back home again.

 

Gone Home

Mam

A Sunday dinner, then tea and cake,
Ties that bind and cannot break.
A story told, a laugh or smile,
Or gentle silence for a while.
A special gift, now and then.
Now she has gone home again.

Someone to talk to any day,
Someone to help in any way.
A warm fire on a winter night,
An ice-cold drink in summer bright.
A sturdy coat for the pouring rain.
Now she has gone home again.

An emptiness is left behind,
Lost things you will never find.
But a memory of what she’d say
Helps you through another day.
Away from us, down the lane,
On her way back home again.

Not Gone

PatsyandMary

Mary and Patsy Hanratty

In loving memory of my father Patsy Hanratty, late of Bellurgan Point, Dundalk, who died 13 March 2005.

 

The slippers lying empty under the bed;
The shovel lying idle in the shed;
The numbers scribbled beside the telephone.
A new reminder every day
Brings you close from far away.
You’re not here now… but you’re not gone.

 

A piece of news you’d like to hear;
A friend recalling with a tear
Some simple lovely thing that you’d done.
You were always there to say
“Can I help in any way?”
You’re not here now… but you’re not gone.

 

We weren’t ready for the day
You shuffled off your coat and slipped away
And left us down here suddenly alone.
But, in our hearts, every day
Your smiling face seems to say
“I’m not there now… but I’m not gone.”

 

Always remembered by your son Pádraig.

 

Killing Time

I was delighted to be recently invited to do a reading at the launch of Orla Grant-Donoghue’s new collection of haiku and micropoetry. The book launch took place at The Irish Writers Centre.

Exploring the themes of love and loss, The Frayed Heart is published by Fiery Arrow Press. You can find out more about this wonderful book at Orla’s website.

Frayed Heart optimized

A large crowd turned up on the night to wish Orla well. And, after the readings by gathered poets and creatives, Orla signed copies of her book. The author’s signature add such a lovely personal touch to a book!

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Photo: Vivienne Kearns

Eileen Casey from Fiery Arrow Press introduced the evening. And Robert Power and Electra Grant set the tone with a beautiful, haunting song. Brian Kirk, David Grant, Susan Condon, Doreen Duffy, Eamon Mag Uidhir, Michael Whelan, Gavan Duffy and I performed short pieces of prose and poetry, tying in with the themes of love, loss and hope.

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Photo: Rose Comiskey

For the launch, I decided to write a short piece about the passage of time. Always needing a deadline to focus my procrastinating mind, I managed to finish the piece the day before the launch!

Padraig reading optimised

Photo: Rose Comiskey

 

Killing Time

Tick tock, tick tock,
The ticking of the bloody clock!

Reminding me that I’m late again. That my schedule is a farce. That the deadline passed me by with its nose in the air. Everything moving forward relentlessly with bold optimism. Everything except me. I am welded to the bed again. And the cats are reporting me to social services. Time to get up, I suppose. In a few more minutes. No hurry. No bother.

Tock tick, tock tick,
That bloody clock is making me sick.

Maybe I’ll take an axe to it. Kill time! Let’s see how well you can tick tock then, you smug sanctimonious two-faced bastard of a clock! But as the seconds march on, I hear my mother’s voice in my head.

Ding dong, ding dong,
The chime of a forgotten song.

“Time waits for no one,” she roared, as she bundled us out the door and out of her way. Glancing at the clock, she sighed, thinking of all the taken-for-granted things she had to do before we came home later that day. A housewife’s work is never done. And never appreciated. Housewives never get promoted. I knew the clock was her enemy too.

Dong ding, dong ding,
Listen to the cuckoo sing!

It was the early 1980s. My parents were shopping on a grey rainy afternoon. Everything was grey in the 1980s in my little village, even the sun. “That’s a lovely clock,” she said, pointing at the mahogany marvel on the wall. “We can’t afford that,” my father immediately snapped back. “I’m just saying it’s nice. There’s no harm in dreaming.” “Well, dreams cost money too, you know,” he grumbled. Grey silence in the car all the way home. Grumpy love, always looking for a fight.

Tick tock, tick tock,
Another day, another shock.

“He’s late today,” she said, getting the dinner ready. “Does he think we’ve got nothing better to do than wait for him?” A car rumbled into the grey street. In he came, mucky shoes destroying her just-washed floor. Before she could crucify him, he put the box on the table. “Don’t say I never get you anything,” he muttered. She opened the box and gasped. She was speechless as she lifted out the clock. He was silent too, of course, devouring the roast beef. Grumpy love, never has much to say for itself.

Tock tick, tock tick,
Day by day, brick by brick.

Every minute of the day, the clock reminded her that time indeed waits for no one. “We’ve a busy day,” she’d declare. “Our time is not our own today, so stop your dilly-dallying.” No wonder she sighed every time she looked at that bloody clock. Or was she sighing for another reason?

Cuckoo, cuckoo,
The deadline is calling you!

My parents’ time has passed now, of course. And the tick tocks echo loudly in the empty house. I put down the axe and wind the bloody clock.

Listen to the lovely chime.
It looks like I am out of time…

For more details about The Frayed Heart, please visit Orla’s website. Limited copies are also available in Alan Hanna’s bookshop in Rathmines.

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Until next time…

 

Gone Home

 

PatsyandMary

Mary and Patsy Hanratty

A Sunday dinner, then tea and cake,
Ties that bind and cannot break.
A story told, a laugh or smile,
Or gentle silence for a while.
A special gift, now and then.
Now she has gone home again.

Someone to talk to any day,
Someone to help in any way.
A warm fire on a winter night,
An ice-cold drink in summer bright.
A sturdy coat for the pouring rain.
Now she has gone home again.

An emptiness is left behind,
Lost things you will never find.
But a memory of what she’d say
Helps you through another day.
Away from us, down the lane,
On her way back home again.

Not Gone

13th ANNIVERSARY

PatsyandMary

 

In loving memory of my father Patsy Hanratty, late of Bellurgan Point, Dundalk, who died 13 March 2005.

The slippers lying empty under the bed;
The shovel lying idle in the shed;
The numbers scribbled beside the telephone.
A new reminder every day
Brings you close from far away.
You’re not here now… but you’re not gone.

A piece of news you’d like to hear;
A friend recalling with a tear
Some simple lovely thing that you’d done.
You were always there to say
“Can I help in any way?”
You’re not here now… but you’re not gone.

We weren’t ready for the day
You shuffled off your coat and slipped away
And left us down here suddenly alone.
But, in our hearts, every day
Your smiling face seems to say
“I’m not there now… but I’m not gone.”

Always remembered by your son Pádraig.

Back Home

In memory of my mother

Mam

A Sunday dinner, then tea and cake,
Ties that bind and cannot break.
A story told, a laugh or smile,
Or gentle silence for a while.
A special gift, now and then.
Now she has gone home again.

Someone to talk to any day,
Someone to help in any way.
A warm fire on a winter night,
An ice-cold drink in summer bright.
A sturdy coat for the pouring rain.
Now she has gone home again.

An emptiness is left behind,
Lost things you will never find.
But a memory of what she’d say
Helps you through another day.
Away from us, down the lane,
On her way back home again.