Writers' Exchange winners: Favorite faux pas
Published: September 9, 2008
|Let's face it, we all make mistakes! This spring, we asked our readers to show us their sense of humor by sharing a favorite faux pas from their writing career. We heard from writers about everything from misspellings to mistaken identities to errant e-mails. Here are the four winning entries we selected:|
From C.S. Fuqua of Madison, Ala.:
I'd been at the paper for less than a week, a reporter for less than a year. We were against deadline, and the editor was shouting for my piece on the designation of a library to receive a substantial donation of writings. I rushed it through, the editor gave it a once-over, and the paper went to press. The following day, calls began to come in, most about the library article. After all, when a paper announces that a library has been designated a suppository for a significant donation of writings, it's news.
From Bruce Harris of Scotch Plains, N.J.:
A few years ago, I submitted a 3,000-word article on cigars. The initial submission went to Cigar Aficionado. In my cover letter, I extolled the virtues of the magazine, closing with, "…will make an excellent addition to the finest cigar magazine on earth, Cigar Aficionado." Alas, months later, the all too familiar rejection letter arrived. Undaunted, I resubmitted the article to a competitor, Smoke magazine. I updated the cover letter, but discovered to my consternation months later, that I neglected to change the closing line! Needless to say, the folks at Smoke failed to see the humor and never acknowledged the submission.
From Lisa Rogers-Dopke of Grand Rapids, Mich.:
During my final year of graduate school, I began teaching an introductory writing course for freshman students, and consequently was quite familiar with the often humorous "spell checker errors" that afflicted many of their papers. Being fanatical about proofreading myself, I had always figured that I was immune to these. So imagine my surprise when I learned that it could happen to me too.
I was finishing a course assignment and had spent most of the afternoon revising the final draft, and was therefore confident that my work was polished and ready to go. I hit the print button and rushed off to class. However, just as I was handing the paper off to be graded, I began glancing through the pages and was horrified to find that my final spell check had replaced the main character's name, Bobby, with the word booby. Lucky for me, the professor found such mistakes as amusing as I now do too…
From Lynn West of Everett, Wash.:
I'm a copywriter for an online clothing company, which means I spend my days writing stuff like "Button-front shirt has short sleeves."
Meanwhile, I pen essays in my off-hours and dream of fame and fortune. When I sent a piece to a plum publication not long ago, I had high hopes—until I got a rejection letter.
The next day at work, I was out of sorts. I thought I kept my funk to myself, though, until the proofreader started cracking up. Instead of writing "Polyester; spot clean" I'd typed—completely inadvertently—"Polyester; clean the damn spot."
--Posted Sept. 9, 2008