This post is approximately 450 words. Yes, the title was deliberate.
I love writing, which means I’ve spent a considerable portion of my life doing it. I’ve written thousands of pages and reviewed thousands more. If you’re like me, you’ve developed proofreading, editing, and copyediting skills. We understand that spellcheck isn’t foolproof. Long story short (too late!), we have the tools at our disposal to deliver pristine prose.
And yet, the typos return like locusts, plaguing our writing on a biblical scale.
Case in point, I recently had a friend review two chapters of my manuscript. Oh man, were these some challenging ones to write. When your protagonist is following a trail of destruction, it’s tough to keep every new discovery fresh. I was also unhappy with the amount of exposition, though I eventually found ways to make those passages feel natural. I also introduced the monster and tested the mettle of our hero. And lastly, I had finally reached the portion of the book where I’d removed one of my important secondary characters, and I needed to make additional hard decisions about his contributions to the story. These chapters hurt my writing brain.
But back to the point of this post. I read, re-read, and re-re-read these chapters several times. There are portions that likely saw seven or eight rewrites. I had sufficient opportunity to catch every single locust typo and squash it.
My trusted reader found eight of the blasted things in the 8,000-word section she read.
Honestly, 1 per 1,000 is a good ratio, so I can’t complain, although there were times when I would have berated my sloppiness. But no more. On any given day, we only have so much time and brainpower. Why, oh why, would we devote precious resources toward cursing our imperfections? Those little chunks of wasted thought add up, and if we’re not careful, their cumulative size will weigh heavily on us until writing becomes more burden than pleasure.
Don’t get me wrong: typos are unacceptable in a published book. When I experience one, I’m violently returned to reality and I find myself disappointed by this mar to the manuscript. And trust me, finding them in my own published work would result in a blue streak of terribly foul and creative curse words.
But until I get to that point, I’m not going to sweat small things like typos. They happen to everyone, and they can occur in Draft 1 or Draft 8. Do not dwell on the little mistakes, lest you look for nothing but mistakes and ignore greater issues within your manuscript.
The pursuit of perfection is also the pursuit of imperfection.
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© Michael Wallevand, January 2017