Part of my publishing process involves reading aloud what I’ve written. The earth’s atmosphere has an unflattering effect on words, and it’s good to identify and correct any issues before inviting others to partake.
This is a simple matter of courtesy. You are busy and could be doing many other things (grass needs-a-growin’, paint needs-a-dryin’) with the five minutes of your life that you’ve chosen to spend reading my words. The very least I can do is try not to deliver a steaming pile of crap.
I usually make my wife listen. Well, I don’t make her do anything, but I ask and she assents. (We’ve been married a long time, and any fantasies she may have harbored about me “buying her nice things” disappeared long ago, replaced by a resigned, “Okay, fine, tell me your story.”)
Mrs. Ducksnorts is a Dickens scholar and a former technical editor who has an excellent ear for language. She knows when things aren’t working. And, as I said, we’ve been married a long time, so she isn’t shy about telling me. In fact, I suspect she may even derive a teensy bit of pleasure from letting me know when something stinks.
(On the flip side, she occasionally laughs, which always makes my day. Husbands, as a species, are not nearly as funny as they think they are; sometimes, eliciting a brief chuckle is the closest you come to victory.)
She also pays attention to details and will catch factual errors. In Tuesday’s piece, for example, I mentioned my frustration at watching Kevin Correia nibble with a big lead. I’d wanted to include something Nick Hundley did during the game to drive home the point, but… well, here is the passage that ran:
My only real complaint is with Kevin Correia’s nibbling. How do you walk Martin Prado in the third after jumping ahead in the count, 0-2, with Chipper Jones on deck? Then again, Correia drove in as many runs as he allowed, so we’ll cut him some slack.
And here is the sentence that originally followed it before being left on the cutting room floor:
Still, it’s worth noting that catcher Nick Hundley got a little irritated, too, at one point pounding the baseball to his chest before returning it to Correia, as if to say, “Throw the ball to me!”
By the time those words hit the air, Mrs. Ducksnorts knew something was wrong. “Wait,” she said, “that wasn’t Correia, that was Mujica.”
Was it Mujica? I replayed the incident in my head (controls are easier to work than the DVR), and yes, the pitcher in question was Edward Mujica.
So I removed the offending passage, thus saving myself the embarrassment of having published something that wasn’t true. And now I’ve told you about it, thus sabotaging my own effort to avoid embarrassment.
Mrs. Ducksnorts is listening. She’s not laughing, but neither is she cringing. I think we’re good to go.