“In a nervous frenzy, I fling words as if flinging mud at a wall. Blurt out, heave out, babble out something – anything – as a first draft.” – John McPhee.
Thankfully, I’m a Writer
Working on a deadline, sometimes of just minutes, occasionally meant that typos and even factual mistakes made it into the newspaper when I was a reporter. It was at those times that I used to comment that if I had made a mistake as a carpenter, my product could have been used as firewood instead of being exposed to thousands of readers.
Recently, however, I came across a comment that made me look at mistakes from a different perspective. A blogger noted that she was thankful she was a writer instead of a brain surgeon because her mistakes weren’t deadly. I guess the same could be said of an airline pilot, an explosives’ expert, or a snake charmer.
Even so, I still recall with embarrassment the first time I had to write a front-page correction. I was still a green-between-the-ears reporter, and had arrived late to a city council meeting. I’m normally a person who is always early, but back then I was a working mother with five children so I’m assuming I had a legitimate excuse.
Anyway, the next half hour after I arrived, the council members debated whether or not to give residents a 5 percent reduction for the cost of a particular city service. They finally agreed in the affirmative, and that was the big headline on my story the next day. Unbeknownst to me, however, was the fact that before I had arrived, the council members had already agreed on a 10 percent reduction, in addition to the additional 5 percent.
I think that was the biggest correction, thankfully, I ever had to write, as I became an avid adherent to the philosophy of double-checking facts, and then checking again.
But then I’ve made plenty of other mistakes that have been doozies, some even that could have been deadly. Don’t we all?
Bean Pat: A thought to start your day http://tinyurl.com/of9dsgt I couldn’t agree more.