Kneel Before the Mistress of Mistakes

gloveEdgy, huh.

Two weeks ago I posted a blog here with the word flagellation in the title, and it seemed to work pretty well. At least if Google analytics is to be believed.

And now you’re back, wondering what dark treats we have in store this week.

Our theme today: cut corners with your blog and you will be punished.

For me, the Mistress of Mistakes is my wife.

For the first few months of my blogging experience I tended to hit the PUBLISH button a bit prematurely. The result was a continuing incidence of typos, the kind that make your cheeks go flush when you encounter them the next morning, already online, and after the RSS feed and subscriber emails had gone out.

That’s toothpaste you just can’t put back into the tube. It’s like getting dressed with a hangover and arriving at work realizing your shoes don’t match.

I’ve tested this, and it’s true: I am incapable of proofing my own work.

So my wife, under penalty of consequences, has instructed me to allow her to proof everything I write before I even consider pasting it into WordPress.

She’s no high school English teacher – though given the context of the title today, that’s a nice image – but she manages to catch mistakes I cannot.

In quiet defiance I’ve tried to beat this system.

I’ve read my copy multiple times, both before and after inserting it into the WordPress editor. And in those weak moments when I’ve satisfied that foolish part of myself that seeks to defy my wife, there’s almost always a typo there the next morning.

But there’s an upside to this I didn’t expect.

After over two decades of professional copywriting experience, you’d think I’d have stumbled on this one by now. (Can we still use the word stumble now that it’s a noun?)

When I think I’m done with a post, I’ve learned to walk away from it before I publish it. The longer the better. The most I can afford is usually the next day, and invariably when I return to the page I see ways to make it better.

Even if my wife has whipped every last typo into oblivion.

Not once has this technique failed me. What you’re reading now is a polish on what was drafted fifteen hours earlier. And while you can’t see the difference, I certainly can.

And so can my wife.

Another Post Script

Since I’ve already referenced that post with the word flagellation in the title (pumping up the ol’ SEO here, folks), allow me to deliver some closure in the name of validating the community aspects of what we do.

Some of you may remember that I mentioned having written an email to Darren Rowse of Problogger.net when I was starting out, which went unanswered. Somehow the vast and mysterious network of blogging brethren got word to him that I’d done so, and he was kind enough to post a comment here on Bloggingtips and actually apologize.

A first, perhaps, in the entirety of the bloggosphere. Pretty cool.

But it gets better from there. He actually dug up my old query email, and while he still didn’t want the guest post I’d pitched, he did invite me to submit another.

Which I did forthwith. Which he seemed to really like, and I’ll take him at his word that it was not merely a make-up call.

Then a few days later, he really liked the article itself. It ran on Problogger yesterday – he even tweeted it with a personal endorsement – and you can read it here if you’d like.

My wife proofed that one, by the way. And if you doubt that, write Darren and ask him if I emailed him notification of a typo the day after I sent it in.

Then again, maybe don’t do that. Just take my word for it.

Thank you, Darren. You’ve joined Kevin (our host here at Bloggingtips.com) as the classiest professionals on the web.

I’m thinking you both have your own Mistress of Mistakes to answer to, as well.

And if my name on the by-line can’t convince readers to get someone to proof their stuff , yours should.

Larry Brooks is the creator of Storyfix.com, an instructional writing site for novelists and screenwriters and their disciplinarians.

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4 Comments

  1. Sharon Hurley Hall December 18, 2009
  2. Helen Leggatt December 18, 2009
  3. Patti Stafford December 18, 2009
  4. Walter December 19, 2009