Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Dreaded Typo (and Other Improvements)

It never fails. I can proofread and reread a document, but as soon as I hit the Send button there it is: a misspelled word. On the first line no less. And while I pressed that key sending my work through cyberspace—the point of no return—to the intended recipient, my body position might have appeared erect and still but my heart skipped a beat. My inside voice screamed, “Nooooo.”

After I’ve scoured through a manuscript, progressed through the course of revisions, survived line edits, and then dared to trespass the final proof stage, those little pests yet burrow in the word count like nobody’s business.

In the world of writing I can strive for perfection. However, the fact remains that I’m not faultless and oversights occur, much to my dread. Incidents like these take place when I feel bleary-eyed after a long session of editing—but not always. Still, a typo isn’t going to sink a story. If the message is evident, the plotline strong, characters well-developed, timing stamps enhanced allowing the arc to flow as it should, a novel can prove its value by its content regardless of the pesky flaws such as those typos we all hate.

The same can apply to our daily walk. We’re human. We have flaws. If I were a walking manuscript (the old-fashioned kind), I’d probably have TYPO marked across my forehead. Thank the Lord I’m not an upright stack of papers. Then everybody would see the blatant blunder. Kind of like the feeling when you spot a typo, yet it’s too late to do anything. It’s published. It’s out there. Grin and bear it.

Really though, what’s great is that I can have flaws, make mistakes. Even so, the content, while abiding in God’s purpose and my daily journey in him, is what’s important, and it can shine with his glory. A novel can glorify his name in spite of imperfections. That’s grace.

When I first stepped into this field of writing there existed such moments of worry they disturbed a good night’s sleep. I suppose I’ve learned to accept mistakes from the extension of my hand as a part of life. Nevertheless, those annoying, detracting features don’t keep me from continual pursuit of the best work I can accomplish each and every time.

I often wonder if God, fully aware of all the typos, looks upon us as his manuscripts. Yet focuses on the beauty of the content, the orchestrated storyline of our lives, how we deliver ourselves, and most of all, the improvement we make with each and every step, ensuring our development into greater communicative vessels.

While I read scripture the other night, a verse popped out at me. “…but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” (1 Corinthians 13:10). Sweet! Christ is our perfection. If we hold him in our hearts and allow him to abide in us, he no longer sees the imperfection. We are made whole, perfect in his eyes. When I held the first copy of my debut novel in my hands, I didn’t see anything but a work made whole, perfect in my eyes. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to seek improving on every count, but I know I have a communicative vessel in my hands, achieving what he sees fit by it. He called it into being, a rough draft now a final print.

The next time I spot an error in the form of a red flag snapping in my face after I initiate Send, I just have to live with it. Dreaded or not, typos are a fact of a writer’s life. Dismayed or not, mistakes are a guarantee of a human’s life. We can only hope to do better the next time around. There is always room for improvement. Maybe next time I’ll have fewer typos, but I doubt it. So, I’ll count my blessings as I go, grateful for a loving God who overlooks my typos—yes, my imperfections—and makes them “disappear” by the mere act of his existence in my life story.

A veteran of the performing arts, Tessa’s work included directing dance ensembles and cultural exchange programs under the auspices of missionary organizations. Besides traveling worldwide in performance and outreach endeavors, she contributed as a writer and editor for ministry newsletters as well as political literature. While her literary focus gravitates from genre to genre, she prefers stories involving love. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” ~ Bible
Tessa is the author of the romance/political intrigue novel, The Unforgivable (RisenFiction/April 2011), and a short story, Love and Lull (Digital Dragon Magazine/August 2010). For more information, visit her at http://www.tessastockton.com/


  1. I like your image of me as a walking manuscript with a typo visible on my forehead. You're right; I'm not flawless, but I'm still God's creation. And he's good. Thanks, Tessa.

  2. Know the feeling Tessa on both counts but thankfully, as you said, God overlooks our typos.

  3. God is good. Thanks, LeAnne and Dale.