I do realize that I could have used the term “cartographers” instead of saying “people who make maps,” but apparently that isn’t how my mind works. I was in Barnes and Noble the other day researching New Orleans, Savannah, and Central America in the travel section, flipping through book after book as though I actually planned to buy something, and as I rounded the corner I almost knocked over an entire map display.
I never stop to look at the maps because I know I’ll be tempted to buy one, and I can’t currently afford to spend $19.99 on a map that I’ll use for three days before I inevitably spill something on it. But for some reason, this time, I stopped. There was one New Orleans map left, a version that was made of something very soft and not quite plastic (it was advertised to be rip-proof, water-proof, and wrinkle-proof — really guys? You are basically daring me.), and as I studied it for a few seconds I thought, You know, I wish it was my job to make maps.
I am constantly writing things down because I never remember anything, and so I pulled out my phone to make a note reminding myself to research the map-making industry, and I wrote it exactly like this: “People who make maps.” After a second I started to delete this note, realizing that I should have just written “cartographers” to be more concise and save time, and then I realized I’d be wasting more time if I deleted that and re-wrote it in a different way, and so I left it like that.
I think I have a tendency to use more words, commas, details, and possibly sentences than is necessary or recommended (like here: why I couldn’t I have just chosen “necessary” or “recommended”? Why say both? This is such a problem for me always, why?). If I were allowed to design and publish maps, would I do the same thing? Would I include every single bookstore and street name and public restroom to the point that the map is just a massive black smear, with not even enough space between each word and image to be able to decipher anything?
Probably. This is probably why it’s beneficial for everyone that I’m not allowed to make maps. I’m the type of person who thinks of “people who make maps” instead of “cartographers” and is unwilling to change it because that would be inconsistent with the way I talk (and, I guess, think). I like the way “people who make maps” sounds, even though an editor would probably cross it out and say, “Um? Maybe write the actual word instead of defining it?”
Basically, my map would probably be more of an artistic rendering than an accurate transcription. Maybe I should look into “map art” rather than actual maps. At least in that case I wouldn’t have to worry if I said “people who make map art,” because I’m pretty sure there isn’t an equivalent word like “cartographer” that I could use instead.
Unless we wanted to get clever and say “cARTographer”? No, I didn’t think so.