To Err is Human

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by Marcia Gruver

While teaching a creative writing class, I passed a little card around the room and instructed the students to read aloud the following sentence:

Now is the time for all good men to come to the
the aid of their country.

One by one, the eager scholars misread it. Until I pointed out each word on a chalkboard as we recited it together, they were oblivious to the mistake.

So how about you? Did you see it? If you’re in the majority, you breezed right over the second instance of the word “the.” Tricky, huh?

I used to cringe when I saw a mistake in a published book and wonder how such a blatant error eluded numerous read-throughs by the author, a thorough onceover by the copy editor, and final approval by the publishing house. Considering the above exercise, I get it. We’re human with human frailties. Our minds and eyes play tricks on us. Even if there are no misspellings or omissions, no errant commas or repeated words, there can still be POV slips, sagging middles, or lackluster storylines. There’s no such thing as a flawless book. And while I’m all about pursuing excellence in our work, it’s pointless to beat our chests and howl at the moon over a mistake that made it into print. By then, all we can do is rail and point the merciless finger of blame.

Okay, not really. We simply vow to do better the next time and move on.

However, there’s one area where Christian authors must strive for absolute perfection. When it comes to presenting the Gospel in the manner in which God has laid it on our hearts to share, we can take no shortcuts. Getting the message across to the reader, every reader, should be job one.

The next time you’re editing a first draft, before beginning the challenge of perfecting the copy, search between the lines for the Father’s pulse. Once you find His heartbeat, the daunting task becomes a labor of love.

Marcia Gruver’s southern-comfortable roots lend touches of humor and threads of faith to her writing. Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband Lee have five children. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with a dozen grandchildren and one great-granddaughter – so far.

Learn about Hunter’s Prize, Marcia’s latest release at ACFW’s Fiction Finder.

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