Confessions of a Red-Pen-Wielding Enforcer

Aryn Kalson-Sperandio
2 min readDec 19, 2018


I love your bad copy. Your split infinitives display the brash recklessness of a 16-year-old with car keys and a stolen six-pack. I hope you take that as a compliment.

You were fearless when writing it all down. And I do mean all of it. Even though, technically speaking, it’s dreadful, I can feel the soul you put into it. Your soul. I know it’s there, hiding behind a sluggish cliché or a sincerely felt, but, let’s be honest, gratuitous adjective.

I love uncapping a fresh red Bic (AKA: clicking on “track changes,” but who can argue against the commanding imagery of an unleashed flood of red ink?) and editing your abysmal prose. Shining them up. Peeling back unnecessary layers of verbiage and humdrum analogies to enable the beating hearts of your ideas a fighting chance to see daylight.

I can’t wait to un-muck the muck — to turn that passive voice active, into a statement that makes me believe in you like I believe in that first cup of coffee in the morning.

Writing is an act of bravery. Thank you for your courage. And thank you for the humility to admit that, while your stories are unique, Tolstoy you’re not. Not yet.

I admire the faith my clients bestow unto me, the ghostwriter, to mine their raw gems of ideas and ensure they are cut and polished to dazzling perfection.

And I am grateful for the keepers of all that is grammatically holy, like my seventh-grade English teacher, Mr. Peterson, who, after suffering through your first bad draft, would inquire, “What did the English language ever do to you that you show such hostility towards it?”

“Nothing,” you might sheepishly murmur as you curse the English language just out of Mr. Peterson’s earshot.

Now that school’s out forever, you can work with a professional writer to bolster you up. You know you’re smart. In fact, you’re an expert in your field. Let’s make sure everyone else knows that, too. Mr. Peterson would give you an A.