That curve ball I reported in the previous post about my book title has been tossed all over the field. I appreciate the comments many left there. An update is in order about principles validated, lessons learned, and conclusions reached.
Principle 1: Do your research.
When controversy arose over the spelling of chile or chilehead, I did do lots of research, and I learned many fascinating facts about chile/chili quite apart from the spelling lessons and history.
Principle 2: Check your references
When I called my father to double check my memory of what he told me, I was in for yet another surprise. Without knowing why I was asking, he turned my memory inside out. In his considered opinion, replacing the “e” at the end of chile with an “I” is an affectation that became fashionable about the time people began naming baby girls Christie rather than Christy. I never did understand how he could be at such odds with local custom, so although chagrinned at this outcome, I’m relieved to find him in character after all.
Lesson 1: Involve lots of others
I was beginning to wish I’d never mentioned this project to the Facebook group, considering in retrospect that asking forgiveness would have been easier. I had no intention of stirring up such a flap. But … I was using what I remembered as my father’s guidance in the first place, and his opinion trumps the rest. Had I not stirred up that Facebook pot, a permanent cloud would have hung over that book when I learned of my flub. This way I can still fix it. Community matters. Crowdsourcing helps.
Lesson 2: Double check your sources.
Memory is a tricky thing. We all know that. My memory error was legitimate and defensible. And I could have asked that question sooner. I just never thought of doing that. So, learn from my example and think about it. Root out and check out your assumptions to keep that egg off your face.
Conclusion 1: I need a new title!
It’s time for creativity. I’m considering options and open to suggestion.
Conclusion 2: It’s chile, not chili.
Case closed on that.
The story of compiling this collection from loose stories to memoir goes far beyond the title. I’ll continue the tale in the next post.
Write now: Think back through your old stories, or perhaps one you are currently writing and look for underlying assumptions. In my case, this was an assumption about spelling and remembered advice. Yours may be quite different. When you find an assumption, check it out. This is especially important when your assumption is based on things other people said or did. Mine was resolvable. Yours may not be. But it’s always worth a try.
Photo credit: Clotee Allochuku