Post by Dingbat
When a well-known literary journal accepted my essay, the founding editor
sent me her copyedits saying that she preserved my “delicate tone” and
my “own writing style,” and that she made several changes for “grammar
or clarity.” Tears of joy almost welled up.
Is there be a Japanese style of writing English in a way that passes muster
with editors, is there a survey of writing styles in English, of authors having
various first languages other than English?
That has nothing to do with any hints of a "Japanese accent" that may
have strayed into the essay -- she _did_ edit for "grammar or clarity" --
and all to do with the writer's particular expressive gifts.
I used to enjoy reading John Updike's book reviews in The New Yorker
but couldn't abide his fiction (which appeared there regularly). I always
suspected that he considered book reviews to be incidental ephemera
that paid the bills and didn't care that they were edited for style or clarity,
but put his foot down when it came to his "serious" "artistic" writing that
they were forbidden to alter for clarity or style.
Which reminds me of a note in one of Joseph Brodsky's poetry collections:
"These poems appeared in somewhat/slightly different form in The New
Yorker." (I don't remember which adverb it was.) Curious as to what that
frequently seen note meant, I compared my favorite poem, the long "Fifth
Eclogue." Turned out the only differences were in punctuation.
He came to Chicago to read -- including the first poems he had ever
written directly in English, not starting with a Russian version -- and
at the signing session afterward I complimented him on "Fifth Eclogue"
(which manages to be a linguistic game in both Russian and English;
incredibly complex patterns of rhyme, assonance, and alliteration),
and he said, "Yah, that's a good one, isn't it?"