In my last post, I incorrectly attributed a quote, due to quick and shallow internet research. I was corrected by a reader and removed the quote, with my face burning and stomach in knots. I wasn’t just corrected, I felt upbraided and dressed down and my reaction was anger and embarrassment. I started writing about it and magically, it became this post.
It’s a risky business, writing out loud. Not just because you put pieces of yourself out into the world, but because everybody is an editor or a critic. You make mistakes publicly. You can read a piece fifty times and still have errors. You don’t research enough, you misquote, you fail to support your stance. One hopes it happens infrequently, but invariably, you’ll eventually make a mistake.
I rarely miss seeing typos and spelling errors in others’ work, but unless the errors really interrupt the flow of someone’s writing, I don’t feel compelled to correct them. If they bother me, I move on. I have, on occasion, discreetly sent an email or two to bloggers who had template typos. I’d want someone to let me know if I had those errors.
While I didn’t initially like the manner in which it was done, I am mulling over the lessons that can be learned from my most recent critic. I will, in the future, be more judicious in my use of quotations, ensuring that things are properly attributed. A very small (miniscule) part of my thoughts are of gratitude. I have to be able to take criticism, correction and sometimes outright insults – no public writer can avoid it. And with it, a little giddy thought – a writer, that’s ME!
Dealing with reader and critic opinions is much like the editing process itself. What’s necessary? Is the point of view valid? What improves my work? What is extraneous? What gets retained? What do I do with this information? I don’t want angry knee-jerk reactions to prevent me from being a better writer or, one would hope, a better person.
I’m a relatively new writer and blogger, so the sting of criticism lasts a little longer than it should. I’ll probably turn this over in my head a hundred times before I lay it to rest. But the next time, only 99 churns, until I get things sorted. And soon, I hope that my thick, alligator-like skin will absorb only the useful advice and repel the rest.
Do you want readers to pipe up when you’re wrong?
Have you corrected other bloggers?
How did you handle it and how was it received?