Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'll Say It Again: There is Value in Proof-reading!

I’m busy.

I suppose I’m no different from any other working wife and mother; as a rule we tend to take on a full load of responsibilities… because, of course, we can’t say ‘no. Some women, I’ve found, are great at juggling several chores at one time. They are excellent multi-taskers.

I don’t fall into that category, I’m afraid.

Instead of coping with two or three jobs at a time, I tend to fit a like number of obligations into the same time-frame by another method. I hurry. And trust me when I tell you that the end result is not usually a desirable one.

The most obvious example of why it is not a good idea to hurry can be found in some of my recent writing. Sadly, I’ve been too busy with my current obligations to do any serious story-telling. The occasional column for the newspaper and entry into GAG is about all I can manage to write in the ‘entertainment’ category. Beyond that, I am writing letters to editors and letters to representatives and letters to scientists and politicians and activists. It’s a type of writing that is completely outside my comfort zone… but it’s necessary.

For my serious (and more long-winded) writing, I have a wonderful friend who steps in and proof-reads for me. But I can’t call upon Jack to double-check every letter and op-ed and email that I send. Can I? I’d like to, but then–not only would I not have a life—Jack wouldn’t, either.

So, I’ve been winging it. Pounding out essays and updates and notes, and often (because there is a whole pile of tasks awaiting my next free moment) I’ve been just hitting ‘send’ without giving them more than a cursory glance.

Bad idea.

I was recently involved in a game of writers’ ‘Tag’, in which several authors participated in the writing of one story without conferring with each other as to where the tale would go or how the characters would develop. It was great fun, even though it added a bit of stress to an already hectic schedule. Anyway…I recently wrote my required chapter, gave it a cursory glance and posted it to the online forum. And then I left. Got busy. Went on to do something else.

By the time I returned to the site, it was too late. My bonehead moment had already been discovered. Discovered, and commented on! The mistake? This sentence: “He swiveled on his tool to face her.”

Hehehe… oh, brother. It was a perfectly innocent, easy-to-make error, right? I typed out the ‘s’ at the end of ‘his’, but neglected the one that directly followed, which would have made my hapless trucker swivel on his STOOL instead of his tool. That one missing ‘s’ completely skewed the whole mental image created by the sentence.

I’m really not sure which one I like better, but it inadvertently changed a serious scene into a humorous one, and that wasn’t my intention.

And just the other night, I authored another typographical classic. This time, my mistake occurred in a letter; a letter with a serious tone, intended to convey a strong opinion. A letter which was emailed to men. My memo ended with this entreaty: ‘I hope if I ever become a polarizing influence, you will lick my ass to the curb.’

Good God. Oh, good God…

It was an hour before I went back to proof-read. It was a useless exercise to begin with, because I knew the letters had already gone out, but I was just rechecking it to make sure I’d conveyed the intended tone.

I’m pretty sure I failed.

In my defense, I am almost positive that the ‘k’ and the ‘l’ are much closer together on my keyboard than they are on those of most other writers. They have to be. They simply have to be.

Thus far, I’ve survived the humiliation brought on by that particular Bomo. The fellows I sent the missive to are gentlemen… gentlemen who have learned to deal with a woman who, even when making an innocent mistake, tends to be a bit ‘earthy’. My Freudian slip barely warranted the roll of an eye.

The only comfort I can find is in the fact that I am not alone. A friend mailed me some timeless classics which were actually published in newspapers, and I’ll share a couple of them with you. While I feel bad for the authors, editors and publishers of these poorly proof-read articles, I have to admit: I feel much, much better now!


  1. Ah...beautiful. I needed that.

    Thanks, Kazza :-)>

  2. Hey, Jack!

    Why is it, I wonder, that you don't seem very shocked by my typos...


    Aw, hell...

  3. Welcome to the club. I once published an entire editorial that looked like it had been typed by a dyslexic chimpanzee with mittens on both hands. Somehow, the "spell checked" version and the "saved" version, were not one and the same!

    Still, one should be especially carefull about those "Freudian slips". They are bound to get you talked about!

  4. Hi, DC!

    Well... I'm counting on YOU to NOT talk about it, okay?? Especially since you probably know who the recipients were of the second 'l' vs. 'k' bonehead moment...

    Don't make me hurt you... hehehe.

    I LOVED the dyslexic mittened chimp analogy, btw. Snicker... great image!

    See you soon, I hope.


  5. Just like a famous Sargent; "Nothing, I know nothing....."

    As for the analogy, you will find that I have a great talent for filling peoples heads with all sorts of images. Quite often, images that they wish they didn't have!

    I bet you never look at a chimp again without thinking about mittens!

  6. I'll bet you're right!

    And good old Schultz! I think it was more... 'Nuthink! I know nuthink!" Hehehe.

  7. Yah, that's more like it, but I don't speak German, so I wasn't sure I could spell it right!

  8. Swivelled on his tool, huh? Or was he just pole dancing?

    Trick like that he should be in Cirque Du Soleil. Have to watch out for splinters, though.

  9. Aw, gawd...more lasting images (which my mother would not approve of).

    Morning, CP. Or..."Go to bed!" is more like it! Hope all is well way, way Down Under!


  10. And he'd have to watch out for nails that might be sticking out. Could take his eye out.

  11. He could suffer from pretty bad eye strain, too. I wonder what sort of eye drops he would use.

  12. As I sit here at six a.m. snickering, Mr. Grumbles knows better than to ask specifics. He simply glances over, asks 'You on your blog?' and returns to the morning weather forecast when I nod and giggle. Hehehehe...
    what a way to start my day! A day guaranteed to be ultra-stimulating as I finish reading 'Sustainable Housing and Building Green' and read 'Title Insurance for the Real Estate Professional' in its entirety. Oh, and take two 100 questions tests, after each.

    Yeah... this was a good way to start such a day. Thanks CP. And... now you've got me wondering, too.



  13. And if they haven't swept the floor properly, he could get dust in his eye. Of course, you're not supposed to rub it when that happens.

    And the word verification for this comment is - no joke - hosed.

  14. Oh, my gawd...hahaha!!!! Too funny!

    Cripe... I'm supposed to be working, here!!

    Hehehehe...oh, brother.



  15. can see the headlines now..
    Prominent local identity found with crack in her buttocks after being ass licked to the curb..

  16. Tried that swivelling thing but ended up having to use my elbows,,, must be getting old.

  17. Ah, boys... I read your comments to Mr. Grumbles a minute ago and we both had a good laugh, so thank you for that. My mood is improved, after waking to six inches of new snow and more coming down fast and heavy.

    Your headline scared me though, Ali g... it's not beyond the realm of possibilities (that I'd do something boneheaded and it would make the papers), and that scares the dickens out of me!

    So, thanks for that, too...


  18. Ha! Loved this post. What a difference a letter can make. I once wrote an affidavit for a doctor to sign that started . . . so and so "has been under my car for the past two years." ooops.

  19. Hi Crystal... I got an email with your comment in it... but I don't see it here on my blog...

    Go figure.

    It's nice to know it's not only me... that there are others who make the same type of silly gaffs. On Friday I responded to an email from the host of a radio show (which I guested on last evening). I ended the note by saying "I look forward to eeting you on Sunday night."