Pandemic brain

Eight-frame cartoon. Frame 1: Bespectacled editor holds up a book with “2020” in the title and says, “Are you reading a book edited in 2020?” Frame 2: A close-up of the book shows the title reading, “2020 Anus Horribilis” and the caption says, “Do you notice more typos than you’d expect?” Frame 3: A confused reader is reading the book. The caption says, “Is the text less coherent and concise than it could be?” Frame 4: Bespectacled editor is hold her head, stressed. The caption says, “Like everyone else, editors suffered chronic stress from the pandemic and other crises.” Frame 5: We see the editor’s brain with stress arrows impinging on it. The caption says, “Chronic stress impairs attention and working memory, which are critical for eating well.” Frame 6: The editor is working at her desk. The caption says, “Some editing tasks we could do automatically, thanks to years of professional practice. Frame 7: The editor takes off her glasses and buries her head in her hand. The caption reads, “But no editing project can be done without cognitive effort, and, in 2020, our brains weren’t at their best.” Frame 8: Bespectacled editor has her hands together and says, “We hope you’ll be understanding and forgiving. Thanks for your patience.”Not an excuse—but maybe an explanation?

I’ve proofread this cartoon several times, but I’m sure there’s a glaringly obvious typo somewhere and I just can’t see it.

In all seriousness, I’d like to send my thoughts to anyone who’s had to endure loss of this year. I fervently hope 2021 will be better for everyone.

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6 thoughts on “Pandemic brain”

  1. So true! A related lesson from 2020 is that, in order to get through the toughest times in life, we need to ask those close to us for help—whether as an extra set of editorial eyes, or anything else. As one friend said this morning in her New Year’s Facebook post, “Whatever 2021 has in store, we will get through it together.”

  2. This really hit home for me, Iva. My brain definitely hasn’t been at its best this past year. In fact, I found that some days I couldn’t focus (and therefore couldn’t work) at all. I’ve been trying to be kind to myself and give myself a break when I need it–not always easy to do! Here’s hoping for a better 2021. Wishing you and your family all the best for the new year.

    1. Happy new year to you, too, Janice! You’re so right that it’s hard to be kind to ourselves. I think we editors tend to hold ourselves to higher standards, sometimes to our detriment. The urge to keep doing more and better just isn’t sustainable. I’ve told myself I should take more breaks this year—we’ll see how it all plays out!

  3. Since I stumbled upon your oh-so-true cartoon about the modern comments in Word, I’ve been using your comics, well, for comic relief, while editing a particularly peevish text. I’m sorry to report, there is a glaring typo in this cartoon: in Latin, “year” is annus. But, why not, 2020 deserves the monicker of anus horribilis. So maybe that was intentional. And there sure are a lot of a*holes we can blame for it 🙂

    Thanks for your sense of humor, Iva.

    (editor, indexer, translator)

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