". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Yesterday I sent out a few additional Christmas greetings (the bulk of them were mailed last week). As I did so I read through our Christmas letter again, something which in the process of writing, editing, proofreading, printing and mailing I must have already done dozens of times. This time, however, I read the letter as a recipient might--uncritically, not looking for errors, but simply receiving the news contained therein.

How ironic, then, that on this reading I found an overlooked typo. Oh, no! How could I have missed it? It was right there in the second paragraph: not a misspelling or a punctuation or grammatical error but instead, a missing word. In all my previous readings of the letter my brain, which knew the word that should have been there, had simply filled it in. Repeatedly.

And to think I used to call myself an English teacher. And that I used to get paid for proofreading other people's stuff! (These days I just do it for free.)

I don't know if I will ever be able to trust my eyes (or my brain) again.


Susan said...

There was the year that several of the kids and I proofread the Christmas letter, and not a one of us noticed that I reported my 11-yr-old son to be "now 10 yrs old..." Like you said, it's shocking how easily we can insert words or skip words or provide correct spellings in our brain when it's not actually there on the paper.

elephantschild said...

Whew. Here I was feeling all dorky and lazy because I don't have my Christmas cards mailed or even written or even thought about much... maybe your example could serve as an excuse, errr, I mean a cautionary tale, to wait until after Epiphany?

AmusedMomma said...

I, too, am an editor. One of our rules is to have several sets of eyes read the same copy so that hopefully we catch missing words, misspelled words or grammatical errors. If we ALL miss it, then we pray that others will miss it too! :-)

We haven't even thought about the Christmas letter, but like the comment above, we're probably waiting until Epiphany to do anything about it.