When I Make Mistakes

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 1st Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3o0fuf2p/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

This article is probably not something you want to read. It most likely does not apply to you. There is nothing saying that you should read it. If the previous statements did not deter you, feel free to read on – at your own risk!

Because We Write, Typos Matter

As writers, often the written word is our only impression: the world reads us, but doesn't always hear or understand us. And sometimes, we get it wrong. Other times, we are right, but people don't appreciate the intent, the lesson, or the tact with which we try to help. Sometimes, shit happens.

Someone pointed out that as a new Wikinut, I have pointed out mistakes in my comments on people's articles. IMHO, I chose to leave address the writer that way for a few reasons:

  • to make everything in the open,
  • to give the author nutpoints, and
  • to ask a question someone else might have been thinking but had been afraid to ask. And I can see easily why someone else would be afraid to ask, given some responses I (and others, I'm not alone in this) have received based on these comments.

Usually, I was asking questions based on what I THOUGHT the other person was trying to say, but with the knowledge that I could have been mistaken as to the author's intent. Though I consider myself a grammarian, and I've taught ESL and grammar, I am not a walking dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, or other resource, and I know I could be talking with writers with a larger or different vocabulary from mine. When offering suggestions or critique, I try to show where I am coming from, so that if something else is meant, with grace it can be addressed. I could be wrong. Something could have been written ironically, with different meaning, or for some other purpose than that which I did not want to assume. But reading is about inferring meaning and making assumptions based on the previous knowledge – all the time.

My Personal Growth

When even the most benign article about grammar causes offense, I must look at all the ways that I have gotten it wrong. I laugh when I realize my own typos – I point them out on my FB pages when I share articles with my FB friends and fans. There, people know me. They know how uptight I used to be about mistakes in writing. They understand it has been part of my wiring. The ability to poke fun at myself and leave mistakes – mistakes not made on purpose, but left there when realized after the fact – shows tremendous growth on my part. Pointing out those same mistakes to people who may not know me may seem pretentious. I assure you, it's not meant that way.

DYAC

But people do make mistakes. I'm in good company. Since I got a Smartphone, I have a whole new appreciation for DYAC. I write most everything in Word and then copy and paste. But as other Wikinuts have pointed out, just because a word is spelled correctly doesn't mean it makes sense in context. And sometimes, like this past week spent away from my desk writing on my phone, words I know I typed a certain way got auto-corrected in a way I did not intend. Some things I found and fixed. Others I did not. My mistakes, every one.

Binders Full of Women

In another example of good company, I'm sure a certain presidential candidate was trying to be feminist supporting when he uttered the phrase "Binders Full of Women." Clearly that's not what he meant. But at the same time, he clearly meant what he said.

There are many who think this comment cost the candidate the women's vote in the election. I already wasn't going to vote for him. Is it shameful that I joined the BFOW group moments after he made his remark? Do I think this candidate has learned not to repeat this mistake? More likely, there is a larger part of this man's psyche that does not feel a mistake was made. He knows what he meant. He may feel he was taken out of context. But he said it. And people have judged it. People's judgments have not kept him from speaking.

Shame Writers Make Mistakes, too

Most recently, a fellow author Brene Brown's comment on OWN caused disgruntled concern. And this is significant because Brown talks, writes, and teaches about shame. Like the kind that I have been accused of offering in my comments to other writers. Brown said shame happens in classrooms every day. Some people could use common sense to know exactly what she meant. Even the most well-meaning teacher can, at times, cause students to feel shame. Some shame is good, even healthy. Shame indicates pride; without pride in one's accomplishments, what is the point of accomplishing? What is the point of making a mistake if there is no shame in having made it? If making a mistake never stings, how does one know that the lesson is learned? If no one is willing to point out the mistake, for fear of shaming the mistake-maker, where will growth come from? Even so, even though many teachers and I personally feel she did and said nothing wrong, Brown apologized. So I will, too.

Apologies are one thing -- but they're just one thing

If my comments or articles have caused you offense, you have my apologies. But more importantly, I hope you have growth. I am grateful to have people in my life who support me and help me in moments of where I am accused of hubris -- if those accusers only knew. I am true to myself, I know who I am – mistakes and all.


So if fear of mistakes has prevented you from writing, learn from me, WRITE ANYWAY: click here.

Tags

Apologies, Bfow, Brene Brown, Grammar, Mistakes, Mitt Romney, People, Shame, Teaching Moments

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Good Evening, Phyl. Thank you for being you. I appreciate your candor and your willingness to write and share about yourself. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Very cool.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks, Marilyn and Steve! Also, thanks Mark, for the QUICK publish and the star.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
1st Oct 2013 (#)

We all make mistakes, but how people talk to us when a mistake is made can be gut wrenching for sure, try not to take anything too hard.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Phyl, this is another wize and thought-provoking pose. Whoops, should be wise and thought-provoking pole. I mean post!

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author avatar Delicia Powers
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Hi Phyl...:0)! Who knew their could be passion in punctuation?...LOL. I like Marilyn's comment, I think it wisely says it all...

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author avatar Delicia Powers
1st Oct 2013 (#)

oops-meant there...

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Mark, Connie, and Delicia -- thanks for your comments and your well-timed humor/humour. It is certainly a sign of strength to be able to poke fun at one's self; those that can are all the better for it!

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
1st Oct 2013 (#)

If the person who may be correcting us does so in a kindly way , then I for one , receive it with the grace it was given . However , if I detect anger or malice in the comment , I have to admit it is not so easy to swallow , how ever right the comment might be.
But it is a wise person who recognizes that they too make big boo boos at times that need to be rectified before they become irreversible .
Bless you Phyl for well deserved star .
Stella ><

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
1st Oct 2013 (#)

I like to laugh at myself and my mistakes - after all, who is above them? As for me, if someone has made a hurtful comment I check their intent and I try to clarify and then leave it at that. I am not like the big boss to say - you are all entitled to "my" opinion! Thanks Phyl for an interesting and frank take - siva

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author avatar Johnny Knox
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Making mistakes means that you actually try to accomplish something and is also a learning process. Great post Phyl!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Just for the record, I have been, and will continue to be, deleting comments that are hateful, advertising one's own articles, or attacking me or other Wikinuts. If I don't follow someone, there is probably a reason for that. Sometimes growth is weeding out what doesn't help one to grow. Each person should feel free to spend one's time leaving long drawn out comments on this or any page, but I hope certain people will LEARN, as this article suggests, and spend time better elsewhere. Thanks!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks, Stella, Siva, and Johnny!

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