They Do Notice

Your family will notice your mistakes. At least some of them will. And that's okay!

Last week I had a brainstorm: I'd print out a copy of Tosh and the Water Guns to mail to one of my grandsons with another gift. I hoped he'd get a kick out of reading a story that features him as the central character.

Two days later, the phone rang. It was Tosh. My story had made it from Pittsburgh to San Diego in jig time. He didn't call specifically about the story, and he hadn't finished reading it yet; however, he did let me know that he'd “kind of” read my story. “And I found a typo,” he reported. I thought I detected a bit of glee in his voice.

“Really! You found a typo? What typo did you find?” I asked.

“You said rally when you meant really,” he informed me.

“Wow! That's great! You have really good eyes, and I'm glad you told me about it so I can fix it,” I assured him. “I'm proud of you.” I could feel him glow all the way across the country. I doubt he expected to be praised for criticizing something, but I considered it a good opportunity to reinforce good proof-reading skills, and show him that criticism can be taken with a positive atttitude.

When I hung up the phone, I had to chuckle. Tosh isn't much on writing letters, or even e-mail, but few eleven-year-old kids are. When I was his age, I did write to my grandmother, but always with a bit of trepidation. I was afraid that she would find mistakes and I had a nightmare that she'd fill my letters with red ink and send them back. She had been a school teacher for a couple of years before she was married. In reality, she never would have done that and might not have noticed the mistake, but the fear detered me from writing more often.

Thinking about the situation, I realized that young kids, or even older people in families now may notice mistakes like this. They may mention them, perhaps even sneer, but don't be deterred. Thank them for being on your proof-reading team (I'm talking about genuine typos and other mistakes here, not differences in memories), fix the mistake (if it isn't in a bound volume) and let it go. Posterity will be so glad to have anything you've written!

Write now: about typos and other goofs that have caused you grief.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal

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