Miles From Fenway


Blinded
July 25, 2006, 9:13 pm
Filed under: work, writing

I know it’s tough to tell from what I write in this space, but I care a ridiculous amount about grammar. The written word is precious to me. Sure when I blog I throw all grammar, punctuation, and spelling rules out the window, but it’s mainly because I spend all day getting paid to agonize over whether our organization should hyphenate the word email or not (my feeling is not. When the internet and email were first emerging the word was hyphenated as an abbreviated way of indicating that it was “electronic mail”. At this point, email is so ingrained in our culture the hyphen is no longer needed. We all know it’s electronic by now).

But I do care. A lot. Especially when it comes to the publications I work on. I take pride in what I do, and how hard I work to do it. So when I received the call that one of our publications had arrived from the printer (well the overages had after being sent out to all 33,000 people on our mailing list) I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to see it. I had poured over this thing for months. 24 pages of articles, some I’d written, all I’d edited, I couldn’t wait to see the final product.

But then I flipped through. And in just those few seconds I realized that that was a bad idea. I should have held onto that moment longer. That “Oh, Wow, look what I did” moment. Because the minute I cracked the spine with was over. Two typos immediately stuck out, and this thing, this project, that had become my baby for the last few months, was dirtied.

And it’s stupid because really? If I am honest with myself, not many people read this thing. Just thinking about how many mailers I get from various non-profit organizations, and knowing that 99.9% of them end up in the trash, is enough to make that point hit home. And one of the typos I doubt anyone will even notice. But I did. And I will every time I look at the damn thing now.

So I ended up being blinded by a lot of things. Blinded by the sheer repetition of the proofing cycle. So blinded that I completely missed things that should have been obvious. I was blinded by my minds eye which scientifically does actually see what you want it to see at certain times. And I was blinded by my rage at myself. That I couldn’t do what I get paid to do – catch the errors.

This is what happens when all of the publications flow through one person. And Mom and DTR and a number of other people tried to tell me no one is perfect. But when it comes to the written word that is actually exactly what I am paid for. To fix mistakes. To be perfect.

And I want to write about how great the weekend was, and how I think my favorite part was Sunday when all we did was buy the Twin some glasses, catch a movie, and hang out at some bookstores, and how that makes me feel a little old but I don’t really care. But instead I’m still fuming at myself. And sitting here wondering how to snap myself out of it.

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7 Comments so far
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i’m sorry you’re so stressed out about this – i can empathize. after months of putting together our agency’s annual report, it arrived from the printer, and i realized i had missed a typo in our agency’s name. that’s right – on the cover of the damn thing, our agency name was missing a plural “s”.

leaving out the plural “s” is something i’ve been chiding/mocking/harassing people about for over a year, and on my watch? whoops. messed it up. on the cover. plain as day.

i was in a funk for the rest of the day, literally wanting to pound my head against hard surfaces. but hopefully for you, after a good night’s sleep (and maybe a drink or two before that!), you won’t feel quite as bad about it.

keep your head up!

Comment by kate.d.

It completely sucks and I don’t know anything that I could say to make it better. But you can still learn from this. You know now to hold onto that moment of accomplishment next time. And while I doubt this will help, I can say with a certain amount of authority that it really is impossible to find every mistake. I spend every day testing software and every single time I’ve been involved in a release I’ve known there were defects that hadn’t been found. It’s a fact of life and part of being human.

Keep your chin up.

Comment by BlackJack

We’re all really critical of ourselves about grammar and spelling. It’s who we are. But it’s also part of us to know that we’re human and mistakes happen. You’re doing a ton of work, and even though you found mistakes, you’re doing a GREAT job.

Comment by Esther

I can totally relate. I used to edit and publish a newsletter. I’d agonize over every word and sentence for a week. Over and over I’d look at it. Once I decided it was perfect, I’d publish and mail. And almost every durn time as I was folding it to get it ready to mail, a mistake would GLARE out at me.

But like everyone said, nobody is perfect. Even in what we are paid to be perfect with. Try not to be so hard on yourself.

Comment by Itchy

A nice way to snap out of it? Check out last night’s Red Sox boxscore. That should make you feel just a little bit better.

Comment by The Omnipotent Q

No worries, the next one will be spot on perfect. Basically it was your brain setting a bar… if it set it at perfection, what would you have to shoot for the next time? :O)

And dont’t woryr about feeling old, i’ve found myself enjoying antiquing. Yeah, that’ll make ya feel old. heh.

Comment by Chief Slacker

It’s tought, but you know it’s going to happen. All you can do is chock it up to experience, and move on to the next project.

Maybe find someone within the company or friends that would quickly read over it next time if you are worried that being the only one proofing the stuff is going to gnaw at teh back of your mind.

Also Happy Official Birthday FINY. Sorry I couldn’t make it down for the party, but I had to help out my very pregnant sister (8 months) and bro-in-law with some nursery stuff.

Comment by edmund dantes




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