If we were having coffee together today, I’d tell you that I had the funniest thing happen concerning my writing this week. One of the students in my creative writing class stopped to talk with me after our recent class and told me that he had just finished reading one of my novels. He said he had enjoyed it, but he had discovered a discrepancy that he thought I’d want to know about.
He referred me to the scenes in question and explained that in an early scene I had mentioned a bathroom not having a window at all (something important to the plot), and then in a much later scene I had referred to the size of the “bathroom window.” My mouth fell open as I listened to him, and my response was what you might expect: “You’re kidding!!!” And then, of course, I thanked him for telling me and told him I’d check it out immediately.
Well, sure enough, folks. He was right. Not only did I say there was no bathroom window in one scene, but later, in two different scenes, I mentioned there being a bathroom window. So … unless I want to bring in a construction company and allow them to remodel the house as part of the plot, I need to rewrite my description of that bathroom.
Now, the funny part is this: I had written the first four chapters of that book a few years ago and had gotten bogged down with it and just put it on a shelf. Last year I decided I really wanted to finish it, so I promised my website readers that I would post the story one chapter a day on my site in order to force myself to finish the story in a timely fashion. So people from all over the world read that story, one chapter at a time, and commented on it. A few got very involved with it. And of course, the book had two different editing sessions before it went into publication as a complete work. Yet not one person noticed that a bathroom window had suddenly appeared in a bathroom that had no window.
I told my student that he is the only living human being who caught that mistake. I also suggested that maybe he should get a job as a proofreader. 🙂 But I’m so glad he didn’t hold back, afraid to tell me about the mistake — particularly since I was his writing teacher. There are some people who probably would have been hesitant to say anything. And I’m glad that I no longer publish that book with the original publisher, but I currently have it published through a self-publishing platform with Amazon. So that means I can get into the system, correct my mistake, and make sure only the corrected text gets published from now on.
The whole episode was a tad embarrassing, but it was also a great teaching tool, in that it serves to re-emphasize the truth that editing and re-writing are, without question, the most important part of writing any book.
Hope you’ve enjoyed our coffee time. Would anyone like a refill? I think I could use another cup. I have some rewriting to do …
Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting our coffee share.
9 thoughts on “Weekend Coffee Share 8/5/18”
I guess this is part of our discussion of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing 😉 I’ve been going through some short stories and yesterday I found one of those types of mistakes where the physical environment somehow changed. That’s a real danger for someone like me who is a “panster” – i just write and write, trying to keep track of details in my head, but…. it happens.
I worked for 43 years in advertising for a large grocery company. We put out a ton of work each week in the form of ad circulars and newspaper ads. We had our own proof-reader, but the meat department insisted on also proofing their section. The lady who did this was ‘fun to play with.’ We ADDED error just for her benefit. My favorite was (This was a Southern grocery chain) Chitterlings… 59c a YARD. None of our intentional ‘errors’ made it into print.
I figure she had your number after the first couple of time.
Total credit to him for being brave enough to tell you, and to you for they way you received the info 🙂
Well, I learned years ago that mistakes are part of life, and I’d rather learn about mine and have a chance to correct them than to go blithely on trying to believe I never made any. 🙂
And, really, when I post a story on my site one chapter at a time, that gives me a chance to let people help me find mistakes. That worked really well with “The Professor’s Education.” Unfortunately, I received an invitation later to enter that book in an international contest that was judging books that were published June-Aug. of this year, but because I had published it one chapter at a time on my site before that date, I couldn’t qualify for the contest after all. The actual publication of the book as a whole fell into the right dates, but it had to be totally unpublished before that date.
However, I still think I’m glad I put it on my site because it did glean me some editorial help from readers. And let’s face it: my chances of winning a contest like that — given the Christian subject matter of my book — were slim to absolutely zero. 🙂 I’m realistic enough to recognize that the world at large does not play fair when it comes to any subject matter that is not considered “politically correct” these days. But that’s okay; as long as my readers like what I write and it helps them, I’m okay with that.
And that they like what you “write”. 🙂
Well LAUGH OUT LOUD!!!!!!!!! Thanks again, you loyal student, you! I think I may be forced to hire you myself. 🙂 🙂 🙂 My only excuse is that I was REALLY tired when I wrote this. But if I don’t manage to WRITE the RIGHT word more often, I may have to go through more author initiation RITES before I do another novel.
However, I am going to correct my mistake now, and anyone who reads this post after this moment won’t know what we’re talking about in these comments. 🙂
How interesting and I think I was one of those reading it chapter by chapter. So proofreaders are fallible too. I did enjoy having coffee with you and I’d take a refill!
Thanks, Maretta. Wish we could sit down to a real cup about now.