I hate making a mistake. Absolutely friggin’ hate it. And I hate it even more when I’m not the only one who knows I made it. When the mistake is just so big and loud and ugly, there’s no chance in hell of covering it up. When it’s like a zit on the end of my nose, and I do my best to try and hide it, but eventually it sneaks out from beneath the layers of makeup and attacks someone. I hate making a mistake like that.
But why do I hate mistakes?
A mistake makes me doubt my own capability; it makes me feel unprofessional, stupid, careless, angry. A mistake will make me feel bad about myself, and for a significant amount of time. Time that could have been spent doing something constructive or fun or creative instead. Time I can never get back.
But you want to know the reason why I hate a mistake most of all? The reason why I find a mistake so bloody hard to get past? Well, I’ll tell you.
A mistake makes me feel like:
Sssssh, don’t tell anyone but losing my mind is actually my greatest fear. Well… either that, or getting eaten to death by cockroaches — although I think that would be somewhat less likely to happen.
Am I really losing my mind?
Picture this. I’m at work, typing up an email to be sent out to our distribution list. I’ve spent the best part of half an hour, crafting the words so that the message is clear and correct and concise; I’ve carefully attached the required document and ensured it will be sent from our generic email address. I’ve added the recipients in the bcc box; it’s ready to go. I’m proud of it. I feel accomplished. I’m doing so well with my to-do list.
Literally, as the mouse button unclicks, I realise I’ve made a blunder.
The subject line is wrong. It’s totally wrong. Instead of being relevant to the email I am sending, it’s relevant to the email I sent this morning. The email I sent to my husband concerning private matters. Private matters summarised in the subject line. To which the email distribution list should NOT have been exposed.
So there it is. The mistake is made. The mistake is out there, and it’s big and it’s loud and it’s ugly. I feel unprofessional, stupid, careless, angry. I doubt my own capability. I want to hide in a very deep hole.
But most of all? I’m scared, because:
I read that subject line! I read it fifty friggin’ times, I swear.
Nevertheless. At the time I wrote the subject line, I was completely and utterly satisfied it was totally and unequivocally correct, and there was absolutely no reason to doubt that was the case. At that moment, I was right. At that moment, I was sane. At that moment, I wasn’t making a mistake.
How could I have been so wrong yet so sure that I wasn’t?
What I cannot fathom is just how is it possible not to see my mistake when I looked straight at it. Why was I so sure I was right? Was I actually sitting there, or was it my crazy twin sister? Were my eyes actually open, or was I asleep? Was I dribbling? Was I staring? Was I lying on the floor in a jabbering heap?
I just don’t get it.
Ok. So maybe I was in a bit of a rush. Maybe I should have triple checked the content. Maybe I was feeling just a little bit too cocky. Maybe I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment.
Whatever! The fact remains I wrote the wrong subject line, and at the time, I thought I was correct. There can be no other explanation.
And this is what I worry about when I profess myself to be writer. For what if I think I am writing something worth reading, but I’m actually writing a load of garbage? What if I think I have a good story, but in actual fact, it’s full of plot holes and crappiness? What if I believe my characters are likeable and intriguing, but really, they are boring as batshit? What if my novel is shit and I’m totally insane?
I only hope that someone tells me soon…. somebody?