Copy That: Waiting for Michigan to tip off

Monday, April 2, 2018 - 8:17pm

.

Illustration by Betsy Stubbs

I’m trying to write this column at Blue Leprechaun, a bar and grill on South University Avenue. A$AP Ferg’s “Plain Jane” is playing over the speakers and Bayern Munich is currently beating Borussia Dortmund five goals to nil. The other people at the table are enjoying their Saturday, camped out playing cards while waiting for Michigan men’s basketball to tip off in the Final Four against Loyola-Chicago and Sister Jean.

I’ve been continuously asking people for ideas for this piece but I’ve shot down every one out of stubbornness. My sister just texted me a video of my dog. I feel like I’m actually doing a “stream of consciousness” piece like the ones I read in AP English. I remember reading those and not understanding one word of them.

I’m going to be honest, I had no idea what to write about in this column. Elise Laarman, my co-copy chief, and I pitched the Copy That series to our copy editors. No one signed up to write the April 4 column, so I took one for the team.

My initial ideas included writing about how golf relates to Copy, how my alternative spring break experience connects to Copy, the joy of being an arbiter of words at The Michigan Daily and an examination of the future of copy editing. In the end, I’m not confident writing about any of these topics. Maybe this lack of creativity is why I’m a copy editor and not writing editorial columns or TV reviews. I mean, my predecessor wrote something similar in a previous Copy That article. Maybe it’s in our DNA.

I like to think I’m creative in real life, but just not in my writing. I can live not being creative in my writing — I don’t aspire to write the next great American novel. The only idea about which I could write a lot is golf and Tiger Woods, but I need at least 2,000 words to do that and it still would have way too much going on. But here we are. My 800 words on golf and Tiger Woods are lying in a different Microsoft Word document saved as “Copy That.” This is “Copy That Two.”

I realize this is turning into the ramblings of someone who wasn’t meant to write a column. Angela Lin wrote in her Copy That article that it was never meant to exist. I understand that.

I initially wanted to join Opinion when I came to The Daily before I was steered to Copy. Imagine my columns. I have deep respect for our columnists.

My friend Matt Harmon writes the “Soundtracking” column every other week, and it’s incredible. But that makes sense. That’s his passion. He loves to write. I love sports, politics, barbeque chips, my Co-Copy Chief Elise Laarman and, of course, editing. But writing is not editing and it requires a whole different set of skills.

This whole process reminds me of Michael Scott in “The Office” episode when they have to make a local ad. Scott says, “Has anyone told you you’re not creative? That’s outrageous. I love this place!” Michael Scott has my back. I’m much more appreciative of being a copy editor now and not having to worry about creative content every week. Arts and Opinion and the Statement can handle this creative content stuff. I’ll stick to being a copy editor.

I feel like I’m stealing this from Matt too. He wrote a “Soundtracking” column about not knowing what to write about earlier in the semester and I enjoyed it very much. I just want Matt to know I’m not stealing this format, but rather it’s an homage to his creative work.

Sadia Jiban wrote a wonderful Copy That column about how copy editors see what others don’t. It’s a very true sentiment. As a copy editor, I now see why I am not a writer for our paper.

Elise Laarman wrote a great piece on styling her hometown of St. Louis. Sadly, there is only one way to style Houghton, MI so the nice piece about home is out the window.

I’ve thought about what I’m going to do after my time as copy chief and I’ve thought being a columnist would be fun. Right now, it’s not sounding super fun.

I’m starting to think I pass over ideas because I want the perfect idea and then the perfect column. But that’s not possible. You can write good, even great, columns, but not perfect ones. With copy editing, you can edit perfectly for style and facts. AP Style is definitive and facts are indisputable. Not to say I edit every piece perfectly but it’s more attainable. I had to hand this column off to Elise for some editing and she gave me this analogy: Creating something out of nothing is hard. Like mining for diamonds. Writers dig the rock, editors polish the gems.

Well I’ve hit my word count and I am going to close out this column. Ironically, my own column will hit my desk on Tuesday night before print on Wednesday. Hopefully I won’t leave too many copy notes for myself.