Why Hurting Can Help

About eighteen months after my book was published I was informed it contained a typo. Where it should have said reins it said reigns. Now, I’ll not lie to you (how could I – and why would I want to?) – I was gutted. And embarrassed. I’d missed it – and not through being illiterate or sloppy. My book was not perfect. That editors had missed it too, and readers (as far as I’m aware) was no comfort. It really stung. 

And I told people about it, I mentioned it to author friends of mine. And most of them said don’t worry. It’s fine. Lots of books have typos. And although it’s not ideal, it’s not something that should cause anyone to give up writing.
And their warmth and their words helped. (It’s still something that irks me, but I’m over it.)
I received an email from a member of my writing group earlier. She’d had her first poem published and whoever had published it had made a mistake. It was formatted (cleverly) in a specific way and had ended up in the finished booklet wrong. Formatting out the window.
And I could see why she’d be upset. I know how much time she’d spent on it, and she wondered how it could have missed.
And I could tell her that I knew how she felt. And that, really, it was okay (the poem, to be fair, does look great even though it doesn’t look the same as she’d intended) and that people do make mistakes. And, I think, I cheered her up.
The most important thing is that it was published. Nothing should take the shine off that.
I hugely enjoyed this interview: Tania Hershman dribbling with Elizabeth Baines. Curious? Go have a look.

0 Comments on “Why Hurting Can Help

  1.  by  Samantha Tonge

    What irks me is when i submit some work and read it through again after i’ve sent it off. I ALWAYS notice something that i could improve, or a small mistake, and end up cussing and kicking myself.Nowadays i hardly dare read a submission through again, once it’s gone off – it’s too painful!

  2.  by  Nik's Blog

    It’s a proper bugger, isn’t it! And I get cross because I tell people when I run workshops that as writers, it’s our job to get the writing bits right. And we really should. But we are only human and when we do mistakes there’s no point wallowing. I should know ;)N

  3.  by  Tania Hershman

    Urgh, I know how you feel, Nik, there are several typos in my book that 4 proof readings and two sets of eyes missed. But the first reviewer didn’t miss them! That was bad. But it’s not the end of the world. And congratulations to your group member on her poem publication. I also just had my first poem published in a print mag and the formatting wasn’t what it was supposed to be, there were quite important italics missing… but we just need to get past that. It’s easy to dwell on these things, on the form rather than the substance, but as we well know, when you’re immersed in what you’re reading, you hardly notice those things, thank goodness!

  4.  by  Nik's Blog

    What wise words, as ever, Tania. I’m going to refer her to this (she recently read TWR and loved it – she’s a proper scientist too) – I think this’ll cheer her up even more than I did.Nik X

  5.  by  Elizabeth Baines

    It’s true that very few books have no typos whatever, but I can sympathise with your fellow group member.And it really is irksome, isn’t it when you’ve been over and over the proofs and then you spot one in the book! But that’s it about copy editing: the worst person to do it is the author because reading involves preconception: if you know what the text is meant to say, more often than not that’s what you see whatever is actually there on the page. That’s of course why mainstream publishers employ professional copy editors who have less preconception about the text than either the author or the editor.

  6.  by  Douglas Bruton

    I had a story published once in a collection where they had pressed as many as possible into the collection – and the type was small amd the lines long and no space for the eye to rest… not at all how it had been written… I hated my own piece in that book… never subbed there again.D

  7.  by  Nik's Blog

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Elizabeth and Douglas.Elizabeth, I couldn’t agree more.Douglas, I don’t blame you!Nik

  8.  by  Anne Brooke

    But hey at least you didn’t get one of your character’s names wrong! I did – in the paperback version of Thorn in the Flesh!! Though I corrected it for the eBook. I still wake up at night sweating about that one. Now it’s the only thing I see!!:))Axxx

  9.  by  Nik's Blog

    Oh Anne – I know how you must feel! Thanks for sharing. And isn’t it lovely to have so many great authors willing to be honest and helpful? Fantastic. :)Nik

  10.  by  Anne Brooke

    Sorry, Nik – I posted my comment twice. Goodness knows why. I must be on … I must be on repeat mode. I’ve deleted one of them!Axxx

  11.  by  Jacqueline Christodoulou

    Before I started writing seriously I never ever saw typos in books. Now I see them all the time. Is there something called ‘writer’s eye’? :-)It always irks me when I see typos in my work (being a perfectionist lol) but it also reminds me how fragile creativity is.

  12.  by  Nik's Blog

    Oh I think there’s definitely something in the ‘writer’s’ eye theory, and I don’t think it’s limited to typos! :)Nik

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