Part 2: So I made mistake on a poster for my library: why?

Its :P right on.

What's funny is that I had read this before I chose to start posting mistakes, warts, guffaws, errors, idiocies, bleeps, and all.

Rather than make sure my blog entries are perfect, pictures are perfect, code is perfect, grammar is perfect -I thought: why not just push to get more stuff out of my head and up on the web --share my thoughts --push my creative limits-- be less worried about getting it right and be more worried about getting it done.

"Below average" as a writer accurately describes my writing abilities. I only wrote my first paper (shudder when I call it that) in 1996. Yes, 1996. While 11 years have passed, consistent writing still escapes me. To feel I mastered what I should have learned from grade school & high school in the same time I'm supposed to be writing at the graduate level is a joke --on myself. I'm still learning some basics now.

While I write "for" the graduate level and do a pretty good job, most times it is an arduous struggle to produce a work I am proud of. I had not wrote a single paper in high school, did very little in depth writing in the military (mostly short, bulleted, tech reports.) In fact, the very first paper I wrote in college was, ...hold your breath... 3 pages! And I got a "C" on that paper.

Now it's years later and I realize I'm missing critical writing skills. But, I am slowly picking them up. Being years behind in the basics doesn't make it easy. Working hard to develop my writing I feel the thoughts/ideas in my head & the words I see don't even come close to articulating what I want to say. Then I make mistakes -oh that's just great.

Now you add the horror of people thinking you are less intelligent +your mistakes +lack of ability to articulate +desire to produce thought provoking quality writing +the fact that you don't know most people go through or have gone thru this process and it = performance anxiety, that is, until you face it. The research on reading & writing prove this true.

It's just funny that the week I push myself to experiment more, I get vociferous feedback, indirectly, on a minor mistake. (I shared it for comments to be sure.) Here I am trying: to publish more of my work, to grow professionally, to challenge myself by exposing more of my raw creative process. I post something and the first thing people do, while compliment it, is criticize it. Seems backhanded. I like being criticized; as long as I know it's coming. I'm not opposed to it at all and produce my best work, usually, only after someone totally shreds it.

When you think it's such a horrible error why not contact me directly like one poster on my flickr account did. I found that admirable. And indirect comments show that we have a tendency to do one thing first: find fault. I'm not crying over it. I'm not hurt or sad or remiss. Actually, it's emboldening. I'm quite distant from the happenings & only know about it indirectly.

What I am doing is using this as a writing exercise. There are a lot of reasons
but this helps. Sorry if you can't handle a wide swatch of language but: don't stomp on me because you are living in fear. I gave that up a long time ago. I wish to bring civility back, because it's not about the cell phone. I would like to see courtesy, respect, and dialogue, not discussion, rise.

Any and all mistakes are my own.


jennimi said...

iblee, people make mistakes. I once spelled Katie Couric's name wrong on my blog and the very same day a college library I applied to was checking me out (I saw in my stats). I still got the interview.

This is one of the things I am often talking about with blogging. We do it, most of us, for free and on our own (meaning no paid editors). We blog because we love what we do and can't wait to share our thoughts and experiences, and in many ways our readers and fellow bloggers are also our peer review and editor. We must be gentle with one another (a friend of mine gently commented with the correct Couric spelling. Ironically, the post was about a Frontline episode addressing the threat of blogs to the traditional newspapers).

At work it's similar. If we have the luxury of working at a library that supports this kind of thing, maybe we have colleagues and committees and teams to work on projects - checking each others' work and giving constructive feedback. But not all of us do and as librarians I hope we can be gentle in finding error. Personally, I want that same kind of treatment in return. I want folks to give me some latitude on a bad day, as I would give them. So I spelled something wrong. End of world?

But anyway... there are bigger things in life than an extra apostrophe. There are a few common mistakes that Word and others just never catch. The beauty of the fact that I am not a robot is just that: I am human. Flesh and bone, mistakes and all. Fragile and strong. And while I may not get everything right all the time, I am passionate about it, and I do it with style. I'll take a flawed poster encouraging students over a nit-picky snarkment any day. And don't get me started on a few of my readers who can't stand my made up words.....

The subject of language as a living breathing evolving organ can be a whole other essay. I've apostrophied on way too long here. :)

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Our need to write perfectly is relatively new (I think) in human history. I believe our computerized, mass produced world wants everything perfect so it can be easily understood (think about how we must address envelopes now). But look at the writing of people before computers. Some words (or names) truly did not have standard spellings. (And Dewey tried to shorten the spellings of some words...which left us with catalog instead of catalogue, which some perceive as being the British spelling.) You can say they were just uneducated OR you can say that they looked at the meaning, not the correctness of the words.

BTW I'm always making mistakes in my blog posts because I write quickly and don't always see the obvious. (And I didn't see the extra apostrophe in the poster right away.)

NoMarian said...

I'm the one who commented on your grammatical error in the "Taming the Web" blog. I certainly don't expect (or strive for) perfection in blog posts or chat. However, while quickly scanning my small selection of daily blogs, I showed your wonderful poster to a colleague, who gasped at the misplaced apostrophe. We erroneously assumed that the poster had been printed. I pointed out the error to *my* source ("Taming the Web") because it wasn't a big enough deal to track down the creator of the poster (you). I apologize if my comment was misguided or misdirected.

NoMarian said...

I made a mistake too: It's "Tame the Web," not "Taming the Web."

Vicky said...

Please know that you are not alone in getting mean and nasty comments on your blog about insignificant mistakes. We have a person who reads our blog http://lrwlnews.blogspot.com/ that frequently makes nasty comments on the posts. And he does it anonymously so we cannot address him about his apparent dislike of the library. I don't understand the mind set that feels it has to be rude and mean when someone makes a mistake. We have chosen not to respond to him unless his comment points out an error that will effect programing and then we only make a general announcement of the error. Read some of his posts you will be surprised at his attitude. or maybe you won't after your experience.

vicky chase
Lucy Robbins Welles Library
Newington, CT 06111

NoMarian said...

Again, I really didn't intend to be "mean," "nasty," or "rude." I said the poster was great but that the apostrophe was not (and I hadn't even noticed it - a colleague did). I'm not anonymous, I just use initials online. I'm a (usually) considerate public librarian who comments rarely to professional blogs but when I do my comments are usually positive and supportive. I again apologize for a comment that makes me look like The Bad Guy - really, I'm no villain.