I am terrible at proof reading my own stuff! That is more than a confession it’s an obvious proclamation to anyone who has read my writing over the years. One of the most miserable feelings in the world is to be incredibly proud of something you have written, and you breathlessly await affirmation from people you know and love, only to have them scream in literary pain over a misspelled word, typo, or the use of the wrong word in your prose. Most of the time it’s something I have read and reread dozens of times, but I JUST DIDN’T CATCH IT! Spell Check is a wonderful tool for those of us who need ongoing corrections, but even Spell Check can’t catch a real word that happens to be the wrong word. It can’t catch missing words or incorrectly used words like “their” when it should be “there”, or “your” when it should be “you’re”, and many more. It takes more than a built-in computer correcting software!
Many years ago, when I first started writing an article for the church bulletin every week, I had several occasions when the use of one wrong word, misspelled or misused, changed the complete message of my article. Of course, not only did I miss it, but the church secretary missed it too – so it was twice as bad. I’ve sat through a reading of my own creative script for our church musical and rather than feel the joy of cast members discovering how good it was, I cringed as they found typos and obvious mistakes that I just never saw. Probably one of the most colossal of mistakes I’ve made in self-editing was the back cover of my latest book The Perspicacious Quandary. I referred to the Devil/Bill as “the Princess of Darkness.” How many times did I read over that and never catch it? As soon as my eye and brain saw the starting letter, it simply filled it in – in my head – with the word I knew it was supposed to be. Nothing like a huge editing error on the cover of your book! Who knows – maybe the Devil could be either gender? That’s what I’m telling myself for the time being. And then there are the blog articles I’ve written…like the last one… Let’s move on!
Catching editing mistakes is a lot like catching our sins. Sometimes we get so used to our selfish quirks and thoughtless comments that we don’t catch them. Besides, they’re not THAT big or THAT bad – are they? Do others see my life mistakes with the same shock and surprise as when they see a typo or misused word? “How did he let that one slip?” “Surely, he knows better than to use that word in that way?” And it stops the flow of thought. It shakes up the intended message. It distracts from what could have and should have been well written.
I was just a little kid when my mother said, “It’s always much easier to see the mistakes of other than it is to see your own.” I remember how profound that sounded. That was a long time before I learned the speck in the eye of others verses the beam in your own eyes lesson Jesus taught. The truth is that my speck looks like a beam to others, just like my slight typo looks like a neon sign to someone reading my stuff. Sorry. Please forgive my typo as I forgive yours, and let’s both try to do a better job of editing our stuff…you know…our life.