“My Worst Mistake? Getting Sick of My Work”


Fiction writer Michelle Wittle got so tired of going over her short story that she just sent the damn thing out, assuming it had no typos. Oops.

Of course, this is why you have friends read your stuff just to look for typos that make you look like a lamebrain. But even several pairs of eyes can miss a painfully awful flub. When I was editing the sexzine Frighten the Horses in the early 90s, a writer submitted a story in which the narrator was a police officer. The first line of the story was supposed to be: “Six o’clock; still at the footpost.” Somewhere along the line this got changed to “Sex o’clock,” which sounds blindingly stupid and probably discouraged readers from reading a single line of the story. And that’s how it got published. I apologized profusely to the justifiably pissed-off author. It was 16 years ago and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s still pissed off. It’s one thing to leave a clanger in your own work, but to sloppily introduce a typo to someone else’s work is unforgivable.

In other typo news, a federal judge got so irked at the errors in a lawyer’s filing that he not only denied the motion but ordered the lawyer to copy his client with the judge’s order, complete with his criticisms that that it was “riddled with unprofessional grammatical and typographical errors that nearly render the entire motion incomprehensible.”

Mark Pritchard is the author of the novel How They Scored and the collections of sex stories "Too Beautiful" and "How I Adore You." He lives in San Francisco. More from this author →