When it's all your fault
“For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” – Ecclesiastes 7:20
Today’s word is forgiveness.
Or maybe it’s regret.
Either way, fact is that the best writers make mistakes.
I don’t count myself among the best writers, but I do count myself as one who has made ugly, embarrassing, soul-gouging mistakes.
I’m not going to mention any of them here. That’s for my own sanity. Making an error that is published for God and everyone to see is humiliating. It’s like admitting to peeing one’s pants in fifth grade.
No, it’s worse than that. It’s like dealing with a death. You deny it—“I couldn’t have possibly written that, no, NO!”
You blame—“Those idiots at the office gave me the wrong information.” (Or, “my editor must have changed it.”)
You seek excuses—“My boss makes me work too hard; mistakes are inevitable.”
You desperately hope nobody noticed. But if you did it, you did it. You might as well own up to it, take responsibility. It’s like a wide receiver in football who drops the easy pass for a certain touchdown. You have to shake it off and move on. You have to forgive yourself. If you’ve offended someone, it also helps if that that person forgives you.
The good thing about making a mistake is that it puts you on your guard. You are sharper in the days that follow. You triple check instead of just double-checking. At least, this is what should happen, if you are dedicated to the craft.
So, as the new year begins, I’d like to say you have my sympathies for your next writing fiasco. We’ve all been there, and we know that sting we inflict upon ourselves is often worse than any punishment that comes from others.
Here’s wishing for an error-free year. Barring that, here’s wishing for an alert editor.
And when all else fails and you sin against good spelling, grammar or the truth in the coming year, here's hoping it will have been an editor who’s to blame.