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.