Thursday, March 10, 2011

Critical Eye. Gentle Heart.

(photo, "Sweet Lavender" by Jennifer Bowers at Sycamore Lane)

When I am at work, I keep close company with a red pencil and my Online AP Stylebook subscription. Oh, and just in case you are wondering how I feel about Mignon Fogarty of Grammar Girl fame...I love her. A lot.

I am a writer, an editor and a public relations/corporate communications guru. A critical eye is an essential tool of my trade. I am quick to draw slashes through comma splices, misplaced quotation marks and 99 percent of exclamation points. If there is a typo to be found...chances are I'll find it.

Unless (ahem), the typo generated from my fingertips. It is amazingly difficult for a writer to catch her own gaffes. At least it is for me and every other writer I personally know. There is just something about being too close to one's own work to truly see flaws. Often, when editing my own work, my eye reads what my mind knows should be there than what is really there.

Yesterday, there was a typo in the title of my blog post (gasp). Chances are you caught it before I did. In fact, had it not been for Mary, my fabulous friend, (In)Courage sister and fellow grammar snob (I consider grammar snob to be a compliment), "Reflection" may still be spelled as "Relfection."

Mary, very sweetly sent me an e-mail noting the error. And I was so happy that she did. Not only did she save me from more potential embarrassment, she gave me an idea for this blog post.

Regardless how Mary would have pointed out my mistake, I would have changed the error. It needed to be fixed. But the way Mary went about the correction went beyond helping me remedy a mistake, it truly blessed my heart. She didn't publicly chastise me in the comment section of the post or via Facebook. Instead, she gently and humbly brought up the typo because she knew that she would be helping me by doing so. She didn't create a "gotcha" moment. She came to me because she would want me to extend the same courtesy to her if the table turned. She also admitted to making similar mistakes of her own (I have trouble believing her on that one). Mary didn't get a sense of joy from telling me I was wrong, but she did feel the joy that comes from helping a friend.

The same type of syndrome that causes writers to be mildly oblivious to mistakes in their own essays is also common in other areas of life. Sometimes we are too close to something to really see that we're messing up. Trust me. I've been in that boat too. And when I'm in that boat, I've noticed that there are three types of people who come along. Type one passes by and ignores my mess. Type two lunges toward me and delights in sharing my mistakes with me and all who are in earshot. Type three is like Mary. She quietly comes beside me and whispers truth in my ear, laces it with encouragement and hopes for the best.

Personally, I learn the most from the Marys I encounter throughout life.

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." - Ephesians 4:2


cindy said...

I consider my editor to be a jewel. I cannot sing her praises loudly enough. You are so right; it is hard to catch your own mistakes. I only wish I had a life editor who could work so closely with me. :) I mean, sometimes I don't notice I'm doing something completely erroneous (and obnoxious) for WAY too long. I enjoyed your blog! Thanks, Angela.

Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

God bless the Mary's. What a sweet heart. I did not see your typo. I have been on the receiving end of those who like to create a 'gotcha' moment... not so fun. We need more Mary's in our lives! :)

asgoodadayasany said...

I have appreciated blog readers who have quietly pointed out errors as well.

I, too, learn the most from Mary's and try to be one. Don't always get it right, I'm sure, but still I try. - Marilyn

Jenn said...

I just have to tell you my heart did a little leap while reading your writings again! I'm so happy to see your words, thoughts, and feelings written out.

I know I have a hard time catching my own writing mistakes and how true that we often miss our other faults. Yet, we so easily pick them out in other people.

Thanks for the link up to my Etsy shop!

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