Napoleon Hill Sayings Applied to Writing

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you’ve discovered that I have gained a great deal of value from the writings of a couple of successful businessmen, W. Clement Stone and his frequent co-author Napoleon Hill. Although I was privileged to meet only one of them (Stone) in person, their practical wisdom has been of help to me many times during my careers in education and writing/publishing.

In fact, I get a daily e-mail “thought for the day” from the Napoleon Hill Foundation http://www.naphill.org that has included numerous offerings  helpful to me in my writing. Perhaps you would find some gems that will help you, too. (You can subscribe to the same “thought for the day” at the above link.) In subsequent posts, I will share a few of the quotations that have been of greatest inspiration to me.

I copy and paste into a Word document the Napoleon Hill posts that seem most applicable to my situation. Occasionally, I look over those accumulated statements for reaffirmation of my purpose and inspiration and encouragement to continue in my efforts. While doing that recently,  I realized that certain topics among the quotations recurred repeatedly. The most frequently mentioned subjects were

  1. attitude,
  2. initiative and action,
  3. dealing with defeat, and
  4. purpose and goals.

One’s attitude and outlook determine whether he or she will take actions toward fulfilling the primary purpose and the several goals for achieving that purpose. Anytime one takes the initiative and steps out in action, of course, he or she risks suffering defeat or rejection. How one deals with those setbacks often determines whether he or she is able to achieve success. So all four of these categories of thought work together for either success or failure.

In future blog posts, I will share several of Hill’s statements on each of these categories and apply them to the writing process. I hope that they will reveal ways that you can apply them to your own writing efforts.

Here’s a little teaser dealing with the need to continue looking for opportunities to learn and improve in our craft.

Don’t be satisfied with being good at your job. Be the best. . . . One of the surest ways to climb the ladder of success is to choose a job that you would do even if you didn’t earn much at it. (Napoleon Hill)

Now if that doesn’t describe writing, I don’t know what does! Periodicals are paying today about the same as they were when Mark Twain was writing–if you can get even that much. But if you’re called to write, then write, even when the money doesn’t follow immediately. But keep learning your craft, always improving your knowledge and skills and striving to be the best writer you can be. If you do, success will come eventually. Perhaps not in monetary terms, but in many other ways.

Check back for similar gems of Napoleon Hill’s wisdom, and find ways of applying them to your writing.

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

 

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The Evolving Writer, Part IV–Cut the Fat!

The next stage for a writer who continues to evolve in his or her skills is learning to “cut the fat.” First drafts are enveloped and permeated by streaks of fat, things that do not really help to carry the essential message. But the evolving writer can learn how to streamline that message and get quickly to its various points, to “cut the fat,” just like a butcher might do.

I’ve already discussed how to “speed your lead,” cutting out nonessentials to get to your point quickly in your opening paragraph(s) https://dlpedit.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/the-evolving-writer-part-iii-speed-your-lead/ . One of my earliest lessons in cutting fat in the body of my writing occurred when the editor of The Christian Writer (now out of print) replied to one of my submissions that he would accept my manuscript–but only if I cut it by half! Those were the days before personal computers and clip-and-paste, so I literally cut my manuscript apart using scissors and taped the pieces together. I then inserted transitions to link those somewhat isolated points. After retyping the whole thing, I resubmitted it, and it was accepted and published.

More recently, the editor of The Writer accepted one of my submissions but asked me to reduce it by two-thirds! It took a lot of work, but I was able to do so, and it was published https://www.writermag.com/2016/04/11/dennis-l-peterson/ .

More was involved in my cutting the fat for both of those projects than I can explain here, but here are a few of the ways I trimmed my writing to produce exactly what the editors wanted. These actions seldom will hurt your writing but always will help in communicating your message.

  • Eliminate needless repetition and redundancies.
  • Give only the number of examples, quotations, or Bible references needed to get your point across; don’t pile them up like cordwood.
  • Don’t use a long, complicated word when a simple one will do.
  • Avoid “Pauline” writing (i.e., a long series of complex sentences). Instead, use a variety of sentence structures: simple, compound, and a few complex sentences.

These are only a few of the many ways you can trim the fat from your writing. Begin practicing them and you’ll soon discover many others.

How badly do you want to get published? Be willing to put in the work necessary to cut the fat, radically if necessary (as in the two examples I’ve given), and you’ll begin seeing more progress in your publication record.

What are some ways that you’ve discovered to cut the fat in your writing? Share a few of them with us.

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

The Evolving Writer, Part III–Speed Your Lead

When I submitted my first article for consideration, I knew next to nothing about writing for publication. But Paul Poirot, the editor of the journal to which I submitted that piece, taught me a valuable lesson about writing that I’ve tried to apply ever since: Speed your lead.

The lead, of course, is what the professionals call the first paragraph (sometimes a little more) of your piece. It is supposed to pull the reader into the body of your article, to make him want to keep reading.

I no longer remember what my lead paragraph for that first article was, but it obviously wasn’t good enough for the editor. He accepted my submission for publication, but the second paragraph of his letter declared, “I’ve suggested a slight rephrasing to speed the opening paragraph, but believe you’d approve. We can check it further when we send galleys.” (Emphasis added.)

He was gently telling me that my original version had rambled, said more than it needed to say, was verbose. He was telling me that I needed to get to the point quickly rather than beating around the bush or delaying it with nonessential information.

One can create a good lead using many different techniques, including these:

  • a thought-provoking question (but not question answerable with a mere yes or no),
  • an interest-capturing quotation,
  • a startling statement or statistic, or
  • an exciting or amusing anecdote (but not long and involved; keep it short).

But whichever method you decide to use, get with it! Don’t dally or delay or pile on the verbosity. Get quickly to the meat of your article and begin introducing your successive points. Your editor, and your readers, will appreciate it. And your writing will be better.

I framed Paul Poirot’s letter accepting my first-ever submission. It hangs on my office wall today, fulfilling two purposes: it encourages me when I am discouraged with my writing progress, but it also is a reminder to speed the lead of everything I write. Maybe Poirot’s advice to me will be a good lesson for you, too.

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

The Evolving Writer, Part II–Hallmarks of Good Writing

All good writers want to keep growing in their craft. In the nearly 40 years that I’ve been writing for publication (has it really been that long?), I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. And the pile of rejections attest to that fact. But I’ve tried to learn from those mistakes, thereby improving my writing.

During that time and through all the ups and downs of my writing career, I’ve noticed seven recurring characteristics that editors seek in the writing they’re willing to publish. The more of these hallmarks that exist in a submission, the greater its chances of being accepted. Conversely, the more of them that are lacking, the greater its chances of being rejected.

  1. BREVITY

Write tight. Make every word count. When in doubt, cut it out. Get to your point quickly. I recognize this as one of my greatest problems. I tend to be too wordy, dragging things out and going into more detail than necessary.

2. CLARITY

Don’t repeat unnecessarily; avoid vagueness.

3. PRECISION

Use the best word to say exactly what you mean.

4. HARMONY

Pay attention to how your writing sounds. Read it aloud. (This will also help you identify typos, grammatical errors, and other problems in your writing.)

5. HUMANITY

Don’t merely write about things, ideas, or concepts; write about them in the context of people.

6. HONESTY

Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else in style or vocabulary.

7. POETRY

Strive to write beautifully, not by forcing it but by permeating your writing with the other six hallmarks of good writing.

Compare your most recent writing efforts against these seven hallmarks. How many of them characterize your work? Strive to ensure that you incorporate as many of them as you can into your writing. You’ll not only see your writing improve but also find that more of your submissions get accepted for publication.

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

Publishing Wheels: Slow but Sure?

In two weeks, it will have been two years ago (yep, in 2016), since I submitted a particular article for publication. It had been even farther in the distance since I had initially queried the editor. My idea had been accepted and the go-ahead given to write the article, which I did, submitting it in May 2016. I had almost given up hope of it’s ever being published.

And then it happened! Today’s mail brought my contributor’s copy of World at War magazine, the June-July 2018 issue, with my 13-page article and its 11 photos and 4 maps on pages 22-34. Finally!

I’m not sure when this magazine will hit the bookstore shelves (this is the earliest pre-release copy of a magazine I’ve ever gotten), but if any of my readers are into World War II history, they might enjoy reading “Forgotten Theater: The Aleutians Campaign.”

And for all you other writers who are despairing that something you’ve submitted and had accepted will never see print, be patient. Perhaps it will be after all. As the old Candid Camera sign-off slogan said, “Somewhere, someday, someplace when you least expect it, . . . .”

The Edited Life

I recently ran across two articles written by Joanna and Chip Gaines, and they made me think. Whenever I watched an episode of their popular TV show “Fixer-Upper,” I was amazed at how many irons that young couple had in the fire. I often asked myself, How do they do it all?! When do they relax?

Then, when I learned that they were ending their TV show, I thought, They’ve finally realized that they’re too busy. But no, they were merely shifting gears, taking one or two irons out of the fire and replacing them with others.

Joanna’s article revealed that her life actually thrives on simplicity. But that simplicity requires intentionality–purposeful focusing–or what she calls “living an edited life.” It is not the relaxation of doing nothing but of prioritizing and organizing to live an orderly and productive life.

Sometimes we find ourselves overburdened not by what others place upon us so much as what we put upon and expect of ourselves. We have to learn that we don’t have to “do it all” because God doesn’t expect us to do it all, and certainly not by ourselves. Joanna Gaines confessed, “[T]here’s nothing quite like the feeling of a lighter load, particularly when you can see in hindsight that you were never meant to carry all that stuff anyway.”

But she went on to say that reaching that point was not a one-time deal. Rather, it was a decision that had to be made “day-by-day, moment-by-moment,” because once it’s made, it repeatedly will be challenged as things come up, demanding our attention. Then we must make the decision again.

Having been an editor for more than fourteen years and having worked extensively with editors of my own writing for even longer, I can relate to her phrase “living an edited life.” Editing has its own demands, not the least of which are imposed deadlines. Some deadlines are well-scheduled so that an editor has the leisure to do a thorough job. Other deadlines (most, my experience has been) are tight, sometimes even unreasonable. In such instances, all the editor has time for is a “quick and dirty,” correct the basics, the most egregious errors.

Editing involves a lot of deleting. Word-count limitations and instances of verbosity, redundancies, and needless repetition demand it. And it’s not always an easy decision to determine what must be eliminated or deleted. But it must be done if the writing is to be precise, succinct, coherent, and orderly.

I think that’s what Joanna Gaines meant by “living an edited life.” We just have to bite the bullet and decide what must be cut from our busy, overburdened lives if we are to be able to relax and do our best at the tasks that absolutely, positively must be done.

The resulting less-cluttered life will leave room and time for the things that truly matter. And that’s what Chip Gaines’s article dealt with.

He revealed that he’s up at 4:00 a.m. (I can hear some of you groaning because you don’t even know what 4:00 a.m. looks like–except dark.) He does so because he’s not only a fixer-upper but also a farmer (or I guess in Texas he’s a rancher), and farmers know that they can get a lot more done with the animals early in the morning. It’s also quieter and cooler.

Chip admits that 4:00 a.m. is early and that the work is hard. But then he reveals the side benefits that sluggards and sleepy heads miss out on. He sees the stars brighter then against the sky ate its darkest. And “when I’m up before the world has woken . . . I have space to think and time to wrestle through life’s complexities.”

I need sleep as much as the next guy (increasingly so as I age), but I must say that Chip’s absolutely right. Although I’m lazier than Mr. Gaines, not rising before 4:45 a.m. (unless I encounter one of my insomnia nights), i’m up long before many other people. And although I don’t milk cows or goats or feed pigs at that hour (I don’t even have a dog to take outside), I do take advantage of the quiet in the house to read and meditate on God’s Word, coffee mug in hand, and prepare my mind for the day ahead.

As I plan, I sometimes realize that I won’t be able to get everything done to the level of quality I’d like, so I have to do some editing. I delete some things from the to-do list. I move other things to later in the week or even to the following week. And sometimes I decide that with some things that must be done, I will have to bite that bullet and content myself with a “quick and dirty.”

In the end, living an edited life turns our alright–assuming that you’ve edited according to the right priorities.

How about you? I’d be interested in knowing how you go about “editing” your life so that you achieve what must be done and still have leisure to enjoy the bright stars in the dark sky. What benefits have you discovered? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

Writing Instruments I Have Known

It’s funny how the anniversaries of certain historic events make you reminisce. Today, I’ve been reminiscing about the typewriter, a writing instrument with which I’m almost as familiar as I am a pencil or pen. On this date in 1868, Christopher Latham Sholes patented a typewriting machine, a giant leap forward for his time.

Inventors had been working to develop a typewriter since as early as 1714 (Henry Mill) and then to “reinvent” it, making it something practical and useful. Sholes was successful in developing one of the first commercially successful such machines.

Sholes was a newspaper editor in Milwaukee. His newspaper’s compositors went on strike, prompting Sholes to try (unsuccessfully) to build a machine that would set type. He and printer Samuel Soule later were working together to develop a ticket-numbering machine when lawyer and inventor Carlos Glidden suggested that they might be able to make a machine that produced not only numbers but also letters. They began with a machine called a Pterotype, developed by John Pratt, and tried to simplify it. The result was the typewriting machine, which is shown to the right of Pratt’s machine.

The men received a patent for their invention on June 23, 1868. Their machine sold for an average of about $250 each, not a paltry sum in those days. Remington, a company better known for its firearms, bought the patent in 1873. The inventors continued, however, to improve on their original design, the most lasting improvement being the QWERTY keyboard arrangement to reduce jamming of the keys, and the arrangement is still in use today (although with computers it is no longer necessary).

The first typewriter that I worked on wasn’t quite as old as Sholes’s machine, but it was old. It was my mother’s Remington portable with a small suitcase-sized carrying case and a ribbon that allowed one to type in either black or red ink. I used that machine before I even took a typing class; I used the hunt-and-peck technique instead.

Then I took typing in high school. (My “wise” guidance counselor tried to convince me that I wouldn’t need to know how to type for college, but my father convinced him otherwise!) We learned on heavy Smith-Corona manual machines that required a heavy hand. To this day, I still pound the keyboard although it’s no longer necessary. (I guess I just enjoy both the feeling of strength it gives me and the sound of the keys being struck. It makes me feel as though I’m actually accomplishing something.)

I enjoyed the typing class so much that my parents bought me a refurbished but very functional Royal typewriter for Christmas that year. I took that machine to college with me and used the carbon paper, erasable bond paper, and hair spray to bond the ink to the erasable bond so it wouldn’t smear when the professors read my papers. I used that machine not only throughout college and grad school but also during much of my teaching career–typing mimeograph and ditto stencils–until I decided (foolishly, I now realize) that I needed an electric machine to be successful as a writer.

The electric machine that I bought was a Brother Correct-O-Ball, which had a golf ball-sized ball in the center where the letters used to be on long, curved arms. The ball would spin around to the letter that corresponded to the key one struck. The idea was that the keys would not get jammed when one typed too fast. I liked that idea because my writing was slowed every time I had to untangle the keys, and that happened often to me. The only problem was that I was so enthralled by watching that ball spin around that I ended up watching the ball rather than writing. And before I knew it, it became hard–and expensive–to get the ribbon cartridges for the machine. I decided I needed to upgrade.

A friend told me that the wave of the future was in word processors, so I bought a used Magnavox Video Writer word processor. It had an ugly yellow-on-black screen display about the size of the modern iPad screen. It also had a neat feature whereby when you began to type a word, the machine guessed what you meant and completed the word for you. When I began one day to type one of my daughter’s names–Tisha–the machine changed it to Tissue. For a while, that feature provided some interesting entertainment, but eventually it became frustrating because I had to proofread even more closely, and that slowed me down. For all the hype about speeding up my production, I found that I was wasting even more time.

Then I pursued a full computer, something that I could use for multiple functions, not just word processing. That’s when I bought and paid for the Tandy computer–and then the franchise went bankrupt before they could deliver it. Then they refused to deliver it. I was called as a witness in the resulting bankruptcy proceedings. When the franchisee lost, I won my computer, but by then I had bought another (a Gateway desktop). I didn’t need and couldn’t afford two computers, so I had to sell the Tandy at a loss.

More recently, I joined the laptop trend. I’ve had Gateways, Toshibas, and now an HP Pavilion. And I’ve suffered through crashes of hard drives, obsolescence of the 5 1/4- and 3-1/2-inch floppy disks, and constantly required upgrades to software and hardware. While this rapidly changing technology has had its advantages, I still look back upon the days of the old manual typewriter with fond memories.

How Many Words Are Left?

The other morning, while I was toiling through my regular routine on the treadmill and struggling with arthritis-pained knees, toes, and wrists, I found myself looking at the bookcase on the opposite wall. There, on the top shelf, were several anthologies and other books that include some of my own writings.

That set me to thinking of how many articles I’ve written. Those thoughts made me realize that I’ve written thousands upon thousands of words over the years since the first article I ever submitted was published back in 1981. One thought led to another.

Behind me, I remembered the huge notebook filled with tear sheets of my published articles. (I say remembered because I didn’t turn to look at it. I once learned a painful lesson about trying to turn around and run backwards on a moving treadmill, and I’m not fool enough to repeat that session!)

As I continued my morning run, warm (very warm!) and dry on a cool, rainy day, I wondered how many words I still have in me. Because we are each given a set amount of time in this life, and, knowing that we, like David, should pray that God would “teach us to number our days” (Psa. 90:12), it seems only natural that we should also ask Him to teach us to calculate our production in whatever our field of service might be. In my own case, it was first in teaching and now in writing and editing. So I wonder how many more words I have left in me to write.

Do I have another book left in me? Perhaps a couple? None? How many more articles are in me?

The question is not how many more writing ideas I have left in me. Those are a dime a dozen; they’re in every direction I look and in everything I read, see, and do. (And even if my idea well did happen to run dry, myriad people are more than happy to volunteer their ideas that they think I should write about!) The issue is how many of my  ideas I will actually be able to express in words fit for public consumption. Correction: it’s actually how many of those words will editors find acceptable to share with their readers. Without editors willing to buy and publish my words, no number of written words will amount to anything. To make a difference, there must be willing editors and willing readers. And that is the rub.

My mind was racing faster than my feet. The pace of the treadmill decreased, but the incline increased dramatically. As I huffed, puffed, and perspired, I asked myself the next logical questions: What will my last written words be? And will anything I’ve written have made any difference?

I know how I read. Whenever I pick up a magazine or newspaper, I skim and scan. Seeing an interesting title or headline, I might read the lead paragraph. If my attention is not immediately arrested, however, I move on to something else. I don’t have time to waste. As the librarian’s t-shirt read, “So many books, so little time.”

I probably read more than the average person, but I rarely read a complete article unless it really grabs me. If it does, I might even print or photocopy it for possible later use.

But most readers skim and scan even more loosely than I do. And we all forget so quickly. Someone once said that yesterday’s newspaper is good only for wrapping fish or lining a birdcage. Today, we don’t even wrap fish in newspaper, so its value is even less.

Can you name even one article that has made a lasting difference in your life? On the spur of the moment, I can think of only one, an article titled “The Tyranny of the Urgent” (about how we allow urgent demands to crowd out the truly important things of life), but I can’t remember its author’s name or which publication it was in.

Today, we suffer information overload, and we forget so much more quickly and easily. Can any words really take root in our lives to the point of making a lasting difference? Will any of the words that I write make any difference to anyone else?

Only one author’s words have the infallible promise that they will live eternally and make a lasting impression and difference in their readers’ lives, and those are God’s. He said, “My word . . . shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).

If written, my words might not get published. If published, they might not be read. If read, they might not be remembered or make any difference in anyone’s life. But it’s nonetheless my responsibility to write them, whether many or few. What happens to them after that is beyond my control. As Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson said, “Duty is mine; consequences are God’s.”

Jesse Stuart, another writer-teacher, encouraged fellow writers to persevere:

And if men thwart you, take no heed.

If men hate you, have no care.

Sing your song.

Dream your Dream.

Hope your hope.

Pray your prayer.

So I write. I don’t know how many words I have left in me, just as I don’t know how much longer my life will last. But I simply do what God has called me to do and leave the results with Him.

And the Nominations Are In

My publisher, McFarland & Company, has informed me that they have submitted my book in nomination for the following two awards.

The 2017 Bobby and John Nau Book Prize in American Civil War Era History is given by the John L. Nau Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia for what they deem the best book on that topic published in 2016. The winner will be announced July 1, 2017.

The Wiley-Silver Prize for Best First Book in Civil War History published in 2016 is given by the Center for Civil War Research at the University of Mississippi. The winner will be announced by August 1, 2017.

From the beginning, when I first started my search for a publisher of my manuscript, I gave the book over for the Lord to do with as He pleased. I prayed that, if it was His will for it to be published, He would open the door with the right publisher. He did, and it was published by McFarland in May 2016. Then I prayed that He would work His will concerning sales of the book. To date, scores of major universities, libraries, and museums across the nation and even several overseas have purchased it. I would like to see many people benefit from what my book offers, but its sales will be what God wants them to be, and I give all the glory for any success it might have to Him alone.

Book Cover Peterson_978-1-4766-6521-4Similarly, with these two award nominations. I’m grateful to have my book included among the many books published during 2016 in the field of Civil War history, and I consider the mere nomination to be a great honor. Humanly speaking, however, the chance of its winning either award is a long shot. If it goes beyond the nomination to win any acclaim, whether an award or even a mere mention, it will be up to God to bring it to pass, and I’ll thank Him for it.

If you are inclined to pray, I’d appreciate your prayers that God’s will be done and that whatever He does with the book will bring honor to Him alone.

Catch Me If You Can!

img_0823Those of us who read a lot (and maybe even some of you who don’t) tend to be critical of writers and editors whose products contain typos or other errors. We sometimes get a chuckle (or maybe even a full belly laugh) at their expense from the unintentional humorous things that sometimes result from such errors.

For example, perhaps you’ve heard about the hapless headline writer and his (or her) editor who allowed the following blooper to slip through and get onto the front page of the newspaper: MAN HELPS DOG BITE VICTIM. (The missing hyphen between dog and bite gave the headline an unintended and, though humorous, misleading twist.)

I’ve been on all three sides of such editorial oopsies, having read such mistakes, having written some of them, and having missed them as an editor. So I can both laugh at and enjoy them and yet commiserate and empathize with those who make them.

When I was an author for a major Christian textbook publisher, I was amazed by how often “obvious” errors slipped through the various editorial sentries that we had in place and got printed. We had a virtual army of watchful pickets and guards against such intruders’ attacking the quality of our products–authors, editors, proofreaders, etc.–and yet the buggers still got through.

It happens because we’re all human. Try as we might to be detail oriented and to catch errors both big and small, we’re still sometimes their victims. As an author, I had read and reread the same material so much during the research, writing, editing, and proofing stages of the publication process that my mind automatically and subconsciously supplied missing letters, words, punctuation, etc. It refused to acknowledge repeated words. When my work went to the editors, all of whom were meticulous, detail-conscious, and well-qualified professionals, even they missed some things. Similarly with the proofreaders. Sometimes compositors or even illustrators caught some errors, although that wasn’t even their responsibility, because they had a distance from the text that allowed them to spot such things.

What amazes me about the publishing world is not so much the fact that errors often slip through unnoticed until the readers point them out, but rather that we are able to catch so many of them. But readers don’t call or write to tell us how many errors we didn’t allow to get past our watchful eyes.

find-editors-mistake-1I said all of that to preface an error that I recently found in the November 2016 issue of Editor & Publisher. It was in the accompanying quarter-page advertisement. See if you can find it.

In case you didn’t catch it (the print is a little small), I’ve circled it in the second photo.

find-editors-mistake-2

This editorial oversight is no big deal in the vast scheme of universal history, but it does matter because quality matters. And if we writers and editors expect quality anywhere, it’s in publications that focus on publishing, writing, and editing.

No, I won’t call or write to E&P to point out their oversight or cancel my subscription in self-righteous protest of editorial laxness, but this example is a reminder to me that even the “big guys,” the movers and shakers in our industry, sometimes make mistakes. Some of the mistakes, like this one, are no big deal, but others can cost big bucks and perhaps even jobs.

It is also a reminder that I, as a professing Christian, should be even more vigilant about the quality of my own work. The Bible teaches me that I should do my best in everything I do, that I should do it heartily, as unto my Lord and not only for fellow humans who might read what I write. I am to “give of my best to the Master.” He gave His best, His own Son, for me; giving Him my best in return should be a given.

Yet, even the best that I do will still fall short of perfection because I am only human. That awareness should make me less hasty in condemning the mistakes of others. Whenever I point my index finger at an editorial oopsie made by someone else, whether writer or editor, I should remember that my other three fingers are pointing back at the errors of omission and commission in my own work.

So let’s get a good laugh together at the honest but inadvertent mistakes that we and others make. But let’s also learn from them and be sure to examine ourselves and the quality of our own work to ensure that it’s the very best we can make it for our Master.

[Now I will sit back and wait for all of you eagle-eyed editor types to email me with a list of all the mistakes you’ve found in this blog post!]