Monday, October 31, 2011

Taking the Reins and Regaining My Reign

I had no sooner picked up that magazine, flipped open to the article and thought to myself, This is my best work ever. And this fabulous layout they did makes it all the better, than a neighbor from down the street popped in to say hi and that he'd seen the article. He took the opening to point out that of all the three thousand words of it what he noticed was that I misspelled the same word, twice.

Actually, it was, as he informed me, a confusion of homophones. I wrote the word reigns when I really meant reins. I missed it in my proofreading. My copy editor missed it in her proofreading. The magazine editor missed it in her proofreading. And now my swollen pride had been drained by a honed scalpel.

Once again, insecurity bubbled and roiled beneath the surface. I took it as proof that I am a fraud. All night I worried that by morning everyone would know that I am not a real writer, that I don't know what I'm doing. The scrutiny frustrated me. I thought, I should just give up this career. No real writer would make a glaring mistake like that.

But real writers do make mistakes. Eat, Pray, Love has an error or two in it. The House on First Street is riddled with them. Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Reed, respectively, are still real writers, however, and their stories are no less engaging.

I suppose that's what it means to be fearless. Fearless has never meant "without flaws." Fearless means putting myself all out there (I was fearless when I wrote that magazine article. All of my skills with creative non-fiction were laid on the line. I put my heart into it.)  and accepting the increased risk of error. The other 2998 words of the article are not ruined because of two. My story is no less engaging.

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