Are any of us truly perfect?

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When I received the call to say I’d come runner up in the Rethink Press New Novels Competition, I was gob smacked. As I have told before, I had mostly lost all confidence in my writing, having come so close twice before, and I had reached a point where I honestly believed I just wasn’t good enough. But this wasn’t the only reason I was so shocked.

The reason I had so much trouble getting my head round the fact that I had won, was because my book was a thriller, and I had a pre-conceived notion that book awards were for tortured souls and luvvies; people who looked down on my genre in snobbish disdain.

Now I am sure there are writers and critics out there who do hold this view, but I am pleased to say they seem to be in the minority. Most I have encountered are lovely, down to earth, unpretentious people who support all. My book was selected as runner up and the response from the buying public has fully restored my belief that I am just as deserving of success as any other writer.

Dead Letter Day is not a work of art. It is a fast-paced, twisty thriller with a strong storyline and well-crafted characters. Is it a literary classic? No, and I don’t want it to be. As long as I can provide readers with several hours of escapism and fun and they find the story gripping and exciting, then I have done my job; because to me the point of reading is to get lost in the pages of a book and have a good time, irrelevant of subject or writing style.

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Of course any book will have its critic and one particular literary critic refused to even consider my book for review based on a spelling mistake. Now I try my best to make my writing as airtight and perfect as possible, but humans are fallible, and errors do creep in. Anyone who claims to never make a mistake is kidding themselves. The error in question was the word ‘grizzly’. I had used this when I should have used ‘grisly’. It is on my press release and also written once in the book. Yes, I used the wrong context of the word and yes, when it was pointed out to me, I was mortified, and I will endeavour to get it changed for future editions.

But let’s be clear here, this reviewer completely dismissed my book and how good or bad it may be on the basis of one word? Fair or harsh, you decide. I claim full responsibility for the mistake, and I am certain it won’t be the last one I make, but we are talking about a 276 page novel that I wrote and proofed until I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I didn’t pick up on the word, neither did my test audience or anyone else who proofed or has since bought my book. Of course, some buyers may have spotted it and have been too polite to say, but it hasn’t stopped the five star reviews and great feedback for the novel.

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A good job then that this particular reviewer is not in charge of what the public should and shouldn’t get to read, because it seems my book is in good company when it comes to the odd error. Robinson Crusoe for example took all of his clothes off, swam out to a boat and filled his pockets with biscuits. Bridget Jones, having driven to a party, seemed to forget her car was there, because she had to catch the train home and in Harry Potter, characters fly on broomsticks over the castle walls, even though there are enchantments in place to stop this happening. In Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson’s wife calls him James in one scene instead of John and Carrie’s dad in Stephen King’s classic horror novel is described as having been in her bedroom shortly after she was born, even though it is later explained that he died when his wife was seven months pregnant.

So readers I ask you to decide, what you would prefer. A less gripping book that is word perfect with absolutely no errors at all, grammatically or plot wise, or one with a couple of mistakes, but a great story?

As for me, I have finally decided to finally make my peace with grizzlygate. Perhaps a future edition of the book can feature a big brown bear on the front cover to appease the aforementioned critic.

8 thoughts on “Are any of us truly perfect?

  1. Well said Keri, as someone who bought your book and enjoyed it thoroughly I can definitely say an grammatical error wouldn’t bother me. I personally think the critic should take a look at herself. She is probably a failed writer herself and maybe just maybe is full of self importance.

    Equally when someone buys the film rights and makes the film if they don’t quite get the continuity correct it wouldnt detract from the plot. Sometimes it can give amusement but if the plot is good enough ( and yours definitely is) you wouldn’t even notice, until a critic picks up on it of course.

  2. Thanks, Jackie. There are many classic errors in films. My favourite is the scene in Halloween. The babysitters have a 10 minute car journey and when they start out it is bright daylight, however, by the time they reach their destination it is pitch black. Very noticeable error, but still a great movie.

  3. I feel that I’m the one responsible for this, as the editor of Dead Letter Day – but I can only say that even experienced editors aren’t perfect either. We will change it in the next edition, Keri – but to do so takes the book out of availability for up to a couple of weeks, which your readers might not appreciate. Apologies all round.

    • No apology necessary, Lucy. I was the one who spelt the word wrong in the first place, and it was missed by all my family and friends. It’s irritating, but I’ve made my peace with it now, and it’s quite an amusing mistake to make. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with “Grizzlygate”

    • Indeed I was, James. Apparently she lost interest when she spotted the word “grizzly” and unless my book was about large brown bears, she couldn’t take me seriously. Her loss though, as she missed out on a great read, wouldn’t you say?

  4. I had atrocity spelt wrong on the back cover of my first book. They are still full of them. Text changes when it goes to printers for peculiar reasons. Capital letters at the start of sentences can become for some unknown reason a number. What you have created and achieved is encouraging for anybody who ever had a dream, a goal, a calling and is yet to make those things happen. I suspect that you will never lose the urge to create and all that feedback becomes is a spur to prick the sides of your intent. English is also a rather lovely language which changes constantly. Ask yourself if you have ever seen a statue of a critic.

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