An Audience of Editors

I did not say that thing about the definition of insanity, dumbass. - Not Einstein
I did not say that thing about the definition of insanity, dumbass. – Not Einstein

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.

Hey Green Stupid, this is a CROCODILE. Do your research!
Hey Green Stupid, this is a CROCODILE. Do your research!

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?

62 thoughts on “An Audience of Editors

  1. I never correct other bloggers, and they kindly ignore my all too frequent spelling issues. Darn that spell check, can’t it understand that I meant “two” not “too?” However, I have judged a blog for too many mistakes and have chosen not to go back. It is too hard to read something when mistakes are all over the place.


    1. When it starts to interfere with the flow of reading, I do move on. I have let some bloggers know about errors via their contact pages (discreetly). These are usually bloggers that I really like, who are trying to get writing careers off the ground. I want them to look as good as I know they are and sometimes we just can’t see our own typos or misspellings. Their responses have always been that of appreciation, which further validates the idea that we can kindly help each other out. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


  2. I would actually love to be corrected, but gently. I’ve found that as my writing confidence grew, I grew, too, to treasure critique. I believe in my writing enough to feel that a critique or correction says something about my product, not me. My product (that sounds clinical) varies in quality, but my underlying skill/potential only improves. I identify more with my skill than with any given result of that skill, resulting in thick skin. The best critique, positive or negative, is specific piercing a layer or two of skin without wounding. It lets me hear how my writing reads after it reaches another’s mind.

    Also, sometimes I write something bad, really bad. I need to know that.


    1. I’d like to believe that I want to be corrected, but I have not reacted well when criticized. The only thing I am pleased about now is that maturity has at least made the angry, resentful reaction time a bit shorter, before I start looking for the lesson. Your perspective is something to think about – almost a way of putting distance between the work and yourself as a writer. I can certainly see the benefits of that, because you are able to take what you need from critiques to improve the work/product immediately. Learning to give and take criticism is a skill set unto itself. Thanks for sharing your approach – it gives me more to consider.


      1. Your shortening time of resentment is one of the steps I took so, if my path becomes yours, you’ve already begun the journey.

        For the record, my ability to take criticism of my writing is one of just a few traits where I feel like a mature grown up. Too often in other realms, I revert to sulky teenager!


  3. I want to know blatant errors – hopefully the knowledge will make me a better writer and editor. I have also received criticism, and attempt to evaluate from the reader’s perspective. It sometimes hurts, depending on the comments.
    And a couple of times I have corrected bloggers, and try to be tactful.


    1. I don’t think there is any way around that initial sting. My hope is to not ruminate until it decimates my confidence to keep going. I think tact and kindness go a long way in delivering those bitter pills! I know it’s an important part of learning to be a writer, but wow, some days it just hits me wrong and I know I have to work on that.


  4. I’d like to think I’m okay with being corrected, but I’m not. My mom actually did it a few times. Imagine THAT. And she was right. And I fixed it. Right away.


    1. I’ll be the first to say that I feel a very visceral reaction to being corrected. I’ve been working on pulling back and not blinding myself to whatever truth I need to hear. I do have a writer friend that gives me a heads up about errors in my posts. After the first wave of hostility passes, I’m usually very grateful.


    1. I’ve gotten a little lax here, I suppose, since it’s a personal essay blog. I shouldn’t play fast and loose with Googled quotes, though! You have a good attitude about getting free critiques. It’s probably something I need to cultivate!


  5. I will only offer a gentle (private) correction if it’s a misspelling in their blog title because I would want someone to do that for me. If there is a misquote, there’s a nice (and again, gentle) way to inform the writer.

    One thing I *do* speak out on publicly in my comments is when a blogger uses images that are not their own and don’t provide a link to where they found the image, as it’s illegal and there are so many artists whose work is being ripped off by bloggers who aren’t giving credit to the image their swiping from other sites. Even if it’s not meant to do harm, it’s still wrong and people as a whole I believe need to be educated.

    Personally, I dealt with leaving insults on my creative writing pieces because he didn’t like the fact that I do them in all lowercase (homage to ee cummings) – yet of course never bothered to read or comment on the actual content, just left vicious comments rather than move to a blog he liked. Ugh.


    1. I typed a response to your comment and it evaporated into the ether world, apparently. I think some corrections, if not related to the content of the piece, should be offered privately. And “offer” is a great word, because that implies the writer can “accept” it or not. We do have choices in how we receive corrections.

      In terms of stylistic choices, I don’t understand the point of commenting on those issues. It’s incredibly subjective, so if a writer’s style doesn’t work for you, just move on. You’re not going to change someone by criticizing them in that context. I think we can all agree there are wankers out there that really don’t deserve the attention their comments garner.


  6. Too many spelling mistakes spoil the post and a grammatical errors all but nearly kill it. I was recently reading a blog which was Part 2 of the writer’s novelette. Zero spelling errors, innumerous grammatical errors. I first smirked and felt superior then switched off the bitch mode to gently suggest a better round of proof reading while complimenting the story line. Keep the criticism balanced, that’s all! She was so happy that someone actually lend her a grammatically sound hand.

    I am just one month old in the blogging world and make fifty spelling mistakes per post. Seriously. I always see these errors AFTER posting and then hurriedly click on Edit before the world embarrasses me.

    Loved your post! You are an amazing writer who just connects with the masses. It’s as if you write what we’d all think only in a better and cooler way! You are witty and make a solid point at the same time!
    May that alligator skin grow soon!


    1. Thanks for your kind words. Blogging has helped me get and stay in the habit of writing regularly, but I suspect that I’m going to have to put my work under less friendly scrutiny if I’m going to really make a run at a writing career. This latest lesson, though, that Google may not be my friend (yes, I know, duh!), is a good one to learn early on. There have been cases in recent years of established, paid writers getting caught out on some of their fact-checking (e.g. Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair) and that can really ruin one’s reputation.

      I imagine this won’t be the last time, so I just need to learn how to process criticism and correction without getting all flustered and defensive. But we’re human and I think that’s a fairly normal reaction, no matter how right someone else is! Thanks for reading and commenting!


  7. I like when we can all let our hair down and talk about what we all have in common: blogging! I usually don’t correct anyone, because, as you mentioned, you can read your post fifty times and still not see obvious errors. We are all human. In my writing group, however, when we can expect criticism, everyone welcomes it and usually seems pretty grateful for the help. I’ve had people correct me before and I wasn’t bothered by it all. I think it’s worse if you see a mistake a day later and then realize all those people probably saw that mistake. I’d rather have someone tell me. I think with blogging, which can be spontaneous and heartfelt, mistakes happen, especially when we don’t have editors. Or, the only editor is you! Great post, Michelle.


    1. I think there is a level of possessiveness that comes with one’s work. As David commented earlier, how you view your work can provide a degree of separation so that you can take in criticism effectively. I have yet to be in workshop or writing group where I felt that I got effective criticism or really, was open to taking it in. I’m more mature now, so I hope that I would react differently. That’s one of my goals over the next year – to find or form a local writer’s group.

      You’re right, though, about having mistakes and no one letting you know. I’ll find something weeks after I wrote a post – and nary a word from readers. I would suspect, as well, that any English language grad could go to town on my grammar errors. Blogging has helped me see some weaknesses in my writing, though, so I at least have a starting point for improvement.

      Thanks for sharing your experience – as you illustrated, some things are universal!


  8. I think a lot depends on how a correction or criticism is worded. The other day a commenter on one of my posts told me I should just shut-up. There is never an excuse for rudeness. And I don’t think any of us ever get over a bit of a sting when we’re called to task for a mistake others think we should have caught ourselves.

    I don’t. as a rule, correct other bloggers and to be honest, I don’t see all that many errors worth making a big deal about. I have queried a couple of times about a blogger’s format – print too small or hard to read – but only if it is a blog I would really like to follow and I just can’t bring myself to peer that hard at the computer screen.

    There is a very fine line to walk in offering corrective advice – too easy to fall over the line to arrogance. Great post.


    1. I have no patience for the “just shut up” or “you’re an idiot” variations of comments. I haven’t had much of that here and have certainly never read any of your posts that should prompt that kind of bad behavior, but the world is full of misanthropic, angry people just looking for targets. None of us, especially those of us who write publicly, are immune.

      As I discovered, there are people who simply lack the necessary tact to correct kindly. Often it does come across like condescension or arrogance. Like most things in life, I’m attempting to take what I need and discard the rest. That’s a lifelong skill, I suspect, and not easy to learn.

      I should mention that while I’m often a silent reader of your blog, I am enjoying learning about the nitty-gritty work you are doing to promote your novel. That’s the lovely thing about so many writers blogging – there’s room for all of us and we have so much to learn from each other!


  9. I’d want to know about any blatant errors. I have been corrected a couple of times and it was done properly so I didn’t have any problems (other than embarrassment) so it was all good.


    1. I do want to know about any errors in theory, but I don’t know what defines having it done “properly”. I think even critiques that are couched in the nicest terms are tough to take. It’s early days for my thin, thin skin, but it will get better. If I want to be a better writer, it must.


  10. I think it really depends on the spirit in which it is offered. Is it kindly offered? Does the critic want to help you or simply insult you? This I think is the difference. I always find errors in my own writing, always after the fact. It does not matter that I write first in Word, or that I read multiple times in that format before transferring to my blog. I still, inevitably find errors after I press publish. I am happy if someone points to my spelling or grammatical errors in a kind way, whether public or private. I have a thick skin, I can take it.

    Because of what I write I am bound to get those who take issue with my content. Those who will sometimes just tell me I am an idiot or worse. There was a time I moderated my site closely, now I do so after the fact. If people want to take issue with my opinion, it is fine.


    1. Intent is obviously important, but also one of the things we have the least amount of control over. My content is fairly mediocre in terms of controversy. For whatever reason, writing makes me seem more reasonable than I am in person. I stopped moderating as well, but it messes me up on occasion – I’ll miss responding to a comment without the yellow highlight on the comments page.

      I can re-read a piece over and over and still miss a repeated word. Lately, I’ve taken to reading it out loud, forcing myself to say every word. The misquote was an error in research, which I will confess, is likely laziness on my part. It was a reminder that even in this relaxed forum, I need to be more diligent. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!


  11. I suppose I’d be fine with it as long as the correction was delivered in a gentle way. There’s just no excuse for being a troll and visiting blogs just so you can show you’re the smartest reader in the room. Comment on the topic and then say, “Oh, by the way, it’s i before e except after c.” Not that I’ve made that error. Much. I do think, however, that if someone demanded I use the Oxford comma, we’d have a fight on our hands. The most important thing to remember is that the critique is rarely personal.


    1. You and I agree on the Oxford comma. I think from the comments, critique, no matter how it is delivered, is tough to take. It certainly diminishes the sting if delivered gently. On the other hand, no matter the type of delivery, it takes skill to extract the useful bits. Once the fog of rage dissipates, I can usually figure out what I take away from criticism.


  12. Hey, I can’t get it right with past and passed. So…there you go, you’ll get no critique from me. There’s no pleasing some people. I appreciate someone pointing out my errors, but condescension is taking that helping hand and cuffing me into grammatical submission. I can’t go for that.

    A funny thing happened yesterday when I went to meet a friend for lunch. She met me at the door with a book I had given her entitled “The Wrong Word Dictionary” with the words past and passed flagged. I love her for that. She also paid for lunch. I love her for that too.


    1. We all have our peccadilloes that trip us up. Mine is often a double “the” after I’ve gone through several drafts. I visually miss it 500 times. On top of not appreciating a condescending tone, I hate being wrong! I know I often am, but that’s the kicker after the correction. I beat up on myself after I’ve finished castigating the intent of the “editor”. It becomes a wasteful cycle of resentment and self-loathing. I wish I’d grow up already!

      Your friend sounds like a keeper!


  13. It depends of your blog, your post, and what you are trying to do with it. But really, nobody likes to be edited.

    I read not long ago that everybody’s first boss should be Miranda Priestly, Meryl Streep’s character in the Devil Wears Prada. Because everybody should have to survive somebody that expects them to work like a maniac. I wrote about mine here:
    I was very lucky to have worked for her and my writing and my self-editing and my ability to edit other folks’ writings is good as a result. Better than it would have been had I worked for a softy.

    But do you offer editorial advice to a blogger? I think it depends. If someone is posting pieces of a longer novel they are hoping to have published, or stories that they want to refine into publishable material, then yes. Offer criticism. If someone is misusing a word, using the wrong word, or doing something with the words and the writing that makes them look stupid and you know they aren’t, then email them and let them know privately.

    But most blog posts are written quickly and put out for a few days before the next post is written. Those I recommend just be allowed to go on as they appear … unless you are close to the blogger, there’s nothing to be gained.

    That said, I have been known to email younger bloggers that have grammatical constructs that make me cringe — those who can’t tell the difference between their there and they’re, for example — and who are telling me in their About pages that they want to be a writer. Then they’re going to need a whole lot of help to get there. And if I think their writing is interesting then I may offer myself up as their own personal Miranda Priestly ….


    1. I never saw that movie, because I’ve worked with enough crazies that I cringed even during the movie promos. I’m harder on myself than anyone else could be, but I know self-editing has its obvious drawbacks. I have limited perspective and knowledge and I’m too attached to my own ego when writing.

      I think there is a diplomatic and helpful way to correct people, but one’s intent is important. I also remember something a boss taught me long ago: the crap sandwich. Surround your criticism with pieces of positive bread. Apparently the crap goes down a little easier. What I’ve found, though, is that people, myself included, hear what they want to hear. I always hear the negative and deflect the positive, while others completely miss any criticism and eat up the compliments. Sometimes the direct route is best.

      When I like the writing (and the writer), I will email them about errors – especially if they’re going to try and make a living at it. I would prefer to be part of a community that acts like that, rather than smugly and publicly correcting them.


  14. Green,
    I don’t correct blog errors. I figure we all have them once in a while. I read for the pleasure. I may take issue with an opinion, but not with spelling or punctuation (unless the writer is clearly a moron and on waaaaaay the wrong side of an issue, then no mercy!)
    And, I just reread my comment and found a glaring spelling error, which I corrected. But wouldn’t that have been fun…


    1. I will often correct spelling errors in comments made to my blog posts, as a courtesy. I found that there’s nothing more frustrating than realizing you submitted a comment to someone’s blog with a typo and no recourse, except to leave it or add another comment with a correction.

      I intend to be more diligent in my use of quotations and I try to be careful about grammar or spelling errors. Beyond that, this isn’t something I’m being paid for or have a research staff supporting. I just do the best I can and when I get pissy about being corrected, I get another blog post out of it. Maybe I should be begging people to correct me.


  15. Hi Michelle, I don’t think I’ve ever corrected spelling or grammar on a published post, nor would I, unless asked for feedback, critique or suggestions.

    I have one time, gently, made another aware of a quote mis-attribution though. The quote in reference was “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate…” I complimented the other for bringing up the quote, and said that it was one of my favorites, but that it was actually penned by Marianne Williamson in her book A Return to Love and not by Mandela as most people believed. I told her not to worry, Williamson herself was quite touched that so many people have been moved by that quote once saying she was “gratified that the paragraph has come to mean so much to so many people.”

    I tend to come from the “praise in public, correct in private” school of thought. When I offer critique, I do try to “sandwich” it between two positives.

    On Einstein and insanity, I’m not sure where the quote originated. I do know that 98% of the time it is attributed to Einstein (the other 2% either to Mark Twain or Ben Franklin), and not only on the “interweb.” I have heard it all the way from corporate meetings to 12-step meetings, and, yep, it’s always Einstein who gets the credit. I wouldn’t feel too bad, Michelle, over that slip that any of us could have made (and many of us probably have). I share many quotes, especially in my weekend volumes, and I would bet money that I have unintentionally mis-attributed at least a few. I mean, come on, we’re writing blogs, we’re not doing brain surgeries; let’s have some fun and be supportive of each other.

    And on that note, I like how you turned the situation into an open topic for discussion–the comments have been great. Hopefully those that need a little “gentle critique” in the giving-feedback department found something helpful here.



    1. Thanks, Christy. I’m pleased that I was able to write about it and could let some of the defensiveness go. I have to confess to the pleasure that comes from realizing I can retrieve a lesson from an uncomfortable exchange. Regardless of the writer’s tone, I am in control of my own actions and words, so I think it’s probably good to be challenged on occasion. I like to think of it as practice.

      Thanks for following up regarding the quote. I have to admit that I generally try to confirm from several different sources and this time, I only used one. Upon further research, I ran across this article on Apparently, I’m not alone in misquoting this particular adage.

      Between the arguments about who said it and whether or not its meaning true, I picked a nice breeding ground for discussion. And we’re not even touching on the implications about using the word “insanity”. I’m the last one to take mental illnesses lightly, but there are some heated exchanges about that as well. All of this goes to say, I will be more careful in the future, but I’m less likely to judge others for making similar errors.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!


  16. Right before reading this post, I read another piece where a blogger is giving some misguided advice on what to do when you are stopped by the police for a traffic violation. Needless to say, the advice she was giving will get any reader arrested (and possibly tasered) if they choose to follow it, and I can only imagine them sputtering “But-but-but I read it on a blog!!!” as they are carried away in handcuffs and put in the back of a patrol car.

    Anyway, I thought about commenting, not to correct the errors, but just to say, “Maybe it’s not such a good idea to dispense legal advice on on your blog” but then I thought, “Hey, it’s her blog, so whatever,” and I just clicked onto the next blog in my Reader and there you were.

    Here’s my two cents: if you want to improve as a writer, you have to be brave and listen to criticism. If we were all as awesome as we think we are, we’d all already be published. For someone to take the time out of their day, read your post, and then bother correcting it, instead of just clicking on to the next blog in their Reader, that’s a good thing. Look at it as an opportunity to improve and you’re never going to misattribute a quote again, right?


    1. That’s pretty bold to put out legal advice without disclaimers. And if someone is following legal advice from a non-legal blog, perhaps tasering is deserved.

      I understand that I will need to take criticism to improve as a writer and I think I took the lessons I needed from this last exchange, but I’m not giving credit that the commenter actually read the post. The quote, used in the first paragraph of the post, was as far they apparently got, since no reference was made to the actual substance of the post. Some people like correcting others as a hobby/compulsion, so I have no illusions about it being a thoughtful gesture.


  17. I’ve had friends tell me in person that I goofed on spelling or if something didn’t flow, but rarely do people niggle at me in the comments. Mostly, folks disagree with my opinion, which I love for the banter and for others piping in with their ideas.


    1. I don’t mind disagreements of opinion, since I think that opens up a discussion. I do hesitate about correcting others – I always imagine them to be as thin-skinned as I. I hope to eventually have the skill to accept criticism graciously and to not want to delete the messenger, but for now, I’ll just wait until I stop feeling pissy and then look at the criticism a little less subjectively. Keeping those expectations realistic!


  18. As a writer/creative director in ad agencies I am used to everyone and their aunt Millie having something to say about my work. I developed a thick skin and learned not to take it personally. And most times my work was better for it.

    Having said that I do feel criticizing or correcting another blogger’s work feels inappropriate to me. I suppose it would depend on how it was said and who said it. There are several bloggers here on WordPress whose work I really respect, and we have sort have become ‘friends’. I don’t think I would have a problem if one of them offered a suggestion or pointed out an error I’d made.


    1. I don’t take issue with being corrected, although a private, kind correction is always preferable to being lambasted publicly. And this is my approach to other bloggers, if I have been part of their readership for awhile and know that the error is not representative of their usual work. I’d want to know as well.

      As for developing thick skin, I think I’ll get there. Writing about it and reading other people’s perspectives has given me more to consider in the process. I always appreciate your experienced point of view, Fransi. I’m late in the game, but it’s never too late to learn!


      1. We’re all constantly learning, whether we’re newcomers or not. And lambasting is never acceptable — not publicly, not privately, not in ad agencies where it is peoples’ jobs to critique work.


  19. I have written lots of non-fiction articles and reports during my career – in English, which is my third language. In the beginning it was easy to accept corrections/edits because it was so obvious to me that I was still learning. Then, later, it became more of an issue…but nowadays I realize and accept that while I can get rid of spelling errors, I will make an occasional grammatical error every now and then. But people have been fairly kind to me, I have to say.


  20. I have had a couple of corrections and they have mostly been offered with grace and humor. I corrected one post when I found I had misidentified a bird – it was not a big deal. Recently I had someone tell me one of my Isabelle posts was too long – I thanked them for trudging through it, but it did sting a little. After thinking about it, I know I am not an expert – I’m a photographer, not a writer. I just got carried away. That post was too long. I followed it up with a longer one – oh well.


  21. Here’s my perspective: The Net and the blogosphere are probably the first venues in history to publish unedited writing. Nothing you’ve ever read in a newspaper, book or magazine, and nothing you’ve ever seen in a play or movie, is untouched by human hands.

    It’s only normal for writers to dislike editing, but most professional writers would not want to publish anything with their name on it unedited. It’s too risky and embarrassing. Professional-quality writing of any genre is always a team effort requiring at least two people. Editing of any piece of writing of more than a few pages almost always includes some revising and rewriting, as well as simple editing.

    I just finished Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” He was a prodigy with rare talent, but he recounts many lessons learned from editors along the way. Every manuscript King writes gets a critical reading by his wife and several other readers whom King expects to be critical, because he plans to make revisions based on their feedback.

    In the past, over-editing by self-important editors was often a problem. In the digital age, lack of editing is endemic.


  22. I think it’s important that readers point out errors. (I have been know to cut-and-paste erroneous material). However, I have received feedback that makes me want to respond along the lines of apologizing for being the only imperfect thing in their perfect world. Giving feedback graciously is as important as receiving graciously.


  23. There is something demoralizing about grammar jingoists who want to impale their judgments through our hearts. As those typos confer upon us some sense of uselessness. That we miss the mark. But those who use language as a ginsu knife, it is they who have erred. The essence of perfection is the ability to know that we are not.


  24. I’ve had good and bad experiences with corrections. I usually ignore the ones I don’t really care about it. Usually, I only think about it if I actually asked for feedback. If I didn’t, and whomever is correcting me…approaches it the wrong way, it’s simple enough to dismiss, usually. It’s not easy to maintain a thick-skin, though. There’s no shortage of people who only go out of their way to make corrections either to put you down or to feed their own egos. That said, I’m big on grammar, though half the time, I don’t worry about editing anything…

    Great article.


    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I’d like to believe that I’m mature enough to accept criticism, but it probably isn’t true. It has taken me a long time to convince myself to write publicly and it will take me longer still to accept negative feedback gracefully, if ever. The only hope is that I learn to give a nod to my personal defensiveness and then move on to getting the information I need to be a better writer. Still, even needed criticism can be delivered poorly and that makes a difference as well.

      I thought I was a bit of a grammar freak until I started blogging and meeting other bloggers. Holy cow, I’m a lightweight!


  25. I liked this. Sadly, as I’ve learned the hard way, some readers and/or critics are just nuts. You can take it on the chin, learn your lesson, pick up your ego and move along, but at the end of the day, you probably did nothing wrong but you’ll wake up tomorrow wiser for the wear..

    Meanwhile, that person, whoever they are, is still going to be just as nuts the next time you see them. Might as well be expecting it. 😉


  26. I’ve definitely let some of my blogging buds know when they’ve made a mistake, but I do so via a private form of social interaction. I figure if it’s bad enough to merit an email or phone call, I don’t want to draw additional attention to it by calling them out in their comments. I appreciate it when they do the same. However, if a perfect stranger stumbles across an error in my blog and alerts me in a kind manner, I’m not angered; I’m grateful.

    I heartily agree with your statement: “You can read a piece fifty times and still have errors.” Ain’t that the truth? How many times did you read this particular post before hitting the publish button? I’ve reread this comment four times already and I haven’t published it. Yet.


    1. I revise and edit drafts until everything becomes a nonsensical blur – always the moment to hit “Publish”. While I do make the effort not to have errors, I also recognize the forum – it’s an unpaid hobby and I’m not particularly uptight about taking in corrections. In this particular case, the reader pointed out the incorrect attribution, in addition to explaining to me how dumb the actual quote was – combining a factual correction with a subjective opinion. Somehow, I imagine the two things would be handled better separately, since it translated in my head as “you’re wrong…and you’re stupid”. I made the correction, but not graciously!


      1. Good for you! I had some work of mine critiqued – a service I actually paid for – and I felt that some of the criticism was very personal. We become so attached to our characters that criticism of their word choices and personalities becomes offensive if not served up with an unemotional or kind hand.


  27. Many interesting comments here about editing, and a few about grammar. Those of you who would like to learn more about editing and proper use of the English language could do worse than follow the Baltimore Sun blog “YOU DON’T SAY” written by a curmudgeon and drudge who has been practicing the craft of editing daily for more than 30 years:

    I used to work for the man, and he is the most demanding editor I encountered in a long span of years (I would not call it a “career”) as a reporter, writer, and editor. He used to be overly obsessive about grammar, but I don’t see that in his recent writing. His blog is always informative and usually amusing.


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