I was reading a book yesterday, one recommended by a friend and I have to tell you that I enjoyed it. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to sit down and read without interruption or without the material being geared toward a topic to improve my craft. It was nice because it was pure pleasure reading.
On occasion, I’m amazed when I am reading a story, engrossed in the characters, the scene, the story then—WHAM—a misspelled word or a missing word or a duplicate word jumps out at me like they are printed in bold and outlined in neon flashing green!
Yesterday that culprit was THE THE. The clones bounced off the pages and hit be right between the eyes.
Okay, I have to admit, I stopped short for a moment and reread the sentence. The mistake stalled the pacing, gave me pause and jerked me out of the story, but it’s wasn’t a deal breaker.
I shall overcome and read on. (Insert your favorite battle song here). After I recovered and packed my battle weapons back up into their crates, I continued to read for a moment, until I thought of a conversation I’d had awhile back with a friend.
This conversation is actually one I’ve had with a few critique partners as well as non-writer friends, so it must be on a lot of people’s minds…lol. It’s been awhile now, but this friend actually called me up one day after she tossed the book she’d been reading into the donation box. She couldn’t finish it. Now, I don’t recall what the error was exactly, but to me I considered it a bump on the page. My poor friend was quite upset by it. She couldn’t understand how a book could go to print and be placed on the bookshelves of stores for purchase and not be ‘perfect’. After all, the buyer was spending their hard earned money on this form of entertainment and the error should’ve been caught.
Yes, she has a great point.
On the other hand, she blamed the author. They should’ve seen it. They didn’t care about their work.
The reason my friend was so upset over this, is because, unlike me, this is a deal breaker for her. When she runs across something that pulls her out of the story like a duplicate word or a misspelling or missing word, her enjoyment in the story is over. She closes that book, never to return.
WOW, you might be saying. But that’s how she feels, and you can’t fault her for being true to herself. Although, I think she might have missed some really good books along the way…and her and I have discussed this. But she is adamant that once she is yanked from the story so crudely, everything is ruined and she can’t continue to read because all she can think about is that error. Sounds funny, at least to me…but I love her and she’s a great person…this is just her own quirk.
Anyway, I know somewhat of the process a book goes through on the road to publication. All the eyes that see the words on the pages from the very beginning of story conception. There is the writer (of course), critique partners, friends and family (not always but sometimes), beta readers—and then when it’s finally polished enough and ‘perfect’ it’s sent to either an agent or publisher (or both). If it’s contracted it then follows the hallways to many departments that pick the work apart to make it shine and ‘perfect’ before it’s released to the hungry eyes of the readers. It’s a process for sure, a process of many long months (at least for the writer…lol).
Now, I did try and explain to her some of the process. Not to blame the writer. Manuscripts, like I mentioned, are seen by so many eyes, it’s not just one persons fault. But she couldn’t get over the fact that it’s the authors work and they should have last eyes on the pages.
This is the part where we agreed to disagree…lol.
I’m sorry, I don’t blame it on the writer, or their critique groups or the editor, publisher, beta reader…whoever. The people proofing a story are all human…things will get missed…things will happen. It’s a mistake. Mistakes happen.
An old conversation always pops into my head at moments like this, so let me digress a moment and share it with you. Years ago, when I was working in the admissions department of a hospital (where we mainly handled paperwork…an extreme amount of paperwork…lol) I made a mistake (shock, gasp, groan) and I was so upset with myself, but my boss shrugged it off. She helped put it all in prospective for me when she uttered these wise words.
“Nobody is going to die because of that inaccuracy. Fix it and move on.”
LOL…damn it, she was right. It wasn’t like I was performing neurosurgery on some poor unsuspecting patient. I made a typing error. I tend to think of this phrase often when I’m going about everyday life and trip up. More than likely the mistake I made or the mistake I come across isn’t going to kill anybody (thank goodness). So fix the mistake and move on. (or in the case of reading a book, where you can’t fix the mistake, just move on).
Back to topic. How about you? When you come across an error while reading, are you like me and can look past it and continue on, actually forgetting about it as you become immersed once more into the story? Or, are you like my friend and it’s a done deal, pages closed and book thrown in a box for donation?