Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, today on a mini-rant about a pet peeve that’s bothered me for some time now. I know it’s the accepted thing not to worry about accurate typing when it comes to emails and social media posts. For one thing, it’s so easy to blame mistakes on autocorrect. But what professional writers send out into cyberspace has the potential to stay there forever, warts and all. Do you really want an infinite number of people, most of them total strangers, even if they are your “friends” on Facebook, reading posts with your name on them and wondering if the books you write are just as slipshod when it comes to spelling, grammar, and usage? And that’s not even taking into account the impression readers may get if you’ve accidentally left out a key word. A missing not can make it seem as if you’re saying exactly the opposite of what you intended.
Word choice is important, too. Even smaller mini-rant: I refer to myself and others who write books and short stories as writers rather than authors. Yes, I am the author of many books, but I didn’t “auth” them. I wrote them.
I also write emails, blog posts, and Facebook posts and comments. I proofread all of them before I send or post, and I read them again after they are published and make corrections if it turns out I missed a typo. Sometimes mistakes still sneak in, but I try very hard to catch them all before anyone else sees them. I think of that as part of my job as a writer, just as it’s my job to try to catch and correct all errors in a manuscript before I submit it to my editor. I may not find them all, but if I’m going to call myself a professional, I’m obliged to do my best, just as I do my best to invent interesting characters, create a gripping plot, and put it all together in a way that will keep readers turning the pages.
I don’t know what’s being taught in schools these days, but there was a time when “English” class included learning how sentences are constructed, the rules of punctuation, grammar, usage, and spelling, and how to write essays (even if nowadays it’s called blogging). I have no problem with casually breaking rules in spoken English, but once I put something in writing, especially in a public forum where it can be easily misinterpreted and could well go viral, then I believe I have an obligation to do my best. If I’m going to list “writer” as my profession, then whatever I write, no matter when, no matter where, should be as accurate as I can make it. Yes, even private email. To my fellow professional writers, I have this to say: it’s not all that hard or time consuming to proofread, revise if necessary, and make sure you end up saying exactly what you intended. If nothing else, think about the legacy you’re leaving for posterity. One careless covfefe could live on long after every book you’ve ever written has faded from memory.
With the June 2019 publication of Clause & Effect, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett will have had sixty books traditionally published. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.