You’ve asked me what editors do. And some day, I’ll tell you.
Today, though, I’ll tell you what editors don’t do. They don’t make mistakes.
Except for when they do.
And then when they do, they make ’em big.
Like, Texas hair big.
The surface of a full moon big.
Really, really big.
To prove this point and to rid my over-active conscience of at least a twinge of guilt, I’m about to admit to the world two of my biggest doozies.
That is to say, I will be the cousin who spills red wine on the white tablecloth at Thanksgiving so that those who dump their glasses next don’t feel so bad.
I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’m just going to say it.
I used a photo of a pastor who–so people tell me–looked remarkably like President Obama on the cover of the November 2012 Lutheran Witness.
You know which November I’m talking about. The one where people vote.
For a president.
To my credit, I’ve been quite clear about the fact that math is not nor has it ever been my forte. That is to say, I never put two and two together.
I saw a smiling pastor who loved his vocation. The world saw the POTUS modeling a clerical collar.
I wanted to know how parishioners could support pastors in their important work of caring for souls.
The world wanted to know why, even though the Church does not tell its members how to vote, it looked like it was trying to.
All I wanted was a happy pastor.
Number 2, which should really be number 1
I lost my concentration. My focus lagged. My mind wandered, if only for a moment, and in so doing, I forever lost my Grammar Guru title.
To my credit, I was utterly mortified.
I considered crawling under my desk and rocking back and forth in the darkness until someone found me.
I . . .
People, I missed the letter L. And not just any L. A very important L. An L that finds its place in the word . . .
My stomach actually hurts.
I missed catching the absence of the letter L in the word public.
In an article about marriage.
You see why this was not ideal timing.
Pastor Harrison wrote a perfectly lovely article for the May Lutheran Witness, addressing the issues of marriage and the Church and how the world continues to devalue both. It also happened to include the following sentence: “As traditional Christians are driven out of the public square, the door is also closed for the Gospel.”
Except that when it went in the magazine, none of us noticed that it wasn’t “public square.” It was, well, something else.
I didn’t notice it in the first round of copyediting. Or the second. Or the third. Or even when the printer sent proofs back. (This is also why you cannot depend on spel lcheck, which hates you and wants you to fail.) I didn’t notice it when I got the magazine in the mail, nor did I notice it when we posted the magazine online.
I noticed it when a kind reader emailed and said essentially, “Umm, I think you might have a little problem.”
Yes. Little. Like the size of the surface of a full moon or Texas hair.
It didn’t matter that no one else noticed or emailed or called in.
And I hold myself fully responsible.
So, having confessed my sin and re-read this post for any missing Ls a good 23 times . . . what do editors do? We don’t make mistakes.
But when we do, we live with them . . . forever . . . in print . . . so that we never, ever make them again.
Until we do.