Visually Impaired: overlooking the obvious

This morning DH woke up with his contacts in.  They’re not the extended wear type and his eyes felt like they were glued shut.  He must have been so tired that he cashed out without finishing his normal routine.

This type of impairment happens to me when I look at a manuscript too long.  Or, conversely, when I’m so excited about getting something out.  I overlook the obvious.  Just an FYI, being visually impaired is not a good way to make a great first impression.

SOME MISTAKES I’VE MADE/HEARD

  1. Misspellings.  I recently sent a manuscript to one of my good buddies (thanks, Layinda) to read.  While it was pretty clean, I was embarrassed beyond words to find that I had used hear instead of here.  Sheesh, even my third grader knows the difference.  I guess my contacts were gummed up on that one.
  2. Typos.  Big time.  My big issue seems to be adding two e’s instead of two l’s or vice-versa.  For instance, feel becomes fell and sell becomes seel.  I do it so often, I hardly notice it anymore.  When I do a rewrite, my brain makes the adjustments so my fingers don’t have to.  This common mistake is not a stellar way to impress an agent.
  3. Forgetting a signature.  Back in the day when I snailed my mss, I found myself sending off a letter sans my Hancock.  Of course, this could have been my imagination (and I’ll never know for sure), but I feared I did it and would fret until I got my rejections.  Do they reject you because you forgot who you were? 
  4. Even worse, I’ve heard, is forgetting all personal info.  Can you imagine an agent receiving a wonderful manuscript only to have no one to extend an offer to?  With spam filters, it is highly plausible that a reply won’t make it home.  And if it’s snailed, you’re doomed.
  5. Commas.  Yep.  When I read and reread, I tend to slip commas in where they’re not needed and take them out where they should reside.  My brain starts playing tricks on me and I start pausing in strange places.  Readers almost need a code book to decipher my intentions when I do this.

The only sure-fire way I know to minimize the impact of visual impairment is to set our writing aside.  When we think it’s done, we should sleep on it.  When we’ve worked long and hard and revised numerous times, we need to let a fresh set of eyes take a peek. 

And never send out anything when you’re tired.  Ever.  Something sent at two in the morning usually doesn’t get read any sooner than the query popped off at 8:30pm–two and a half days later.  As far as I know, agents do not sleep on their desks waiting for the ding of “you’ve got the most awesomest mail ever, get up right now and read it” to pull them from their slumbers.  Sleep and a cup of coffee can make all the difference in how you see your work.  I guarantee it will impact how an agent does.

I’m sure there are tons of other horror stories out there about overlooking the obvious.  If so, let us know.  We don’t want to make those same mistakes.  Likewise, share your words of wisdom on how you keep your vision clear and crisp.

Sending virtual contact solution~

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19 responses to “Visually Impaired: overlooking the obvious

  1. Good morning, Cat. Please drop by my blog when you have a moment. I have something for you.

  2. I enjoyed your insights! I make some of the same mistakes. I get contact gum everywhere. Ewe.

    “Do they reject you because you forgot who you were?”

    “As far as I know, agents do not sleep on their desks waiting for the ding of “you’ve got the most awesomest mail ever, get up right now and read it” to pull them from their slumbers.”

    “Readers almost need a code book to decipher my intentions…”

    You make me giggle to myself. XD

    • Hi, vn.

      It’s nice to see you over here. I checked out your blog yesterday and loved your whimsical insights. Some people (me included) believe that voice is inherent. You have definitely found yours just in the little blurbs I read over there.

      As to mistakes: we all make them. No matter how long we have been writing, we are still prone to being visually impaired.

      Hugs and see you around!

  3. I’ve done everything on that list (even the hear-here one!)- but this is also a great checklist Cat, and you are absolutely right, never send something when you’re tired! It amazes me how we can overlook the obvious sometimes…

    • It’s what makes blog posts and comments so dangerous. I never give them enough time to make sure I’m not stuttering all over myself in them!

      I almost died with the hear-here. I wanted to send an email back to my beta letting her know that I am well aware of the difference. The bad thing, that little word mix-up had probably been read by me about 15 times. Sheesh!

  4. I once sent the correct manuscript with the wrong query letter. ^_^ I sent a follow-up email once I realized my mistake, but I never heard back. Maybe they decided I was crazy.

    • Ouch! That’s a pretty big oversight! Never fear, however, as I guarantee you are not the only one to ever do that. In fact, I’ve sent the wrong check with the wrong bill before. Utility companies don’t like that. : ) I bet agents don’t either.

  5. I have editing issues with my manuscripts, no matter how short, all of the time. First I am the queen of the comma splice and I have to get a friend to read for comma errors. Second, not only do synonyms gets me (my brain misfires) but sometimes I type a wrong word completely. I don’t know why this happens but it does, it isn’t even a word that remotely sounds like the word I mean, it is an entity unto itself.
    Typos well they are legion.

    I have to read my manuscripts aloud to find all the errors, the words left out, the dreaded repeated word, the queer word that finds its way in my manuscript out of the blue and, of course, the synonym errors. I highly recommend reading your manuscript aloud as a means of catching errors. With a novel this can be done one chapter at a time. You will be glad you did it.

    Ciao,

    Ardee-ann

  6. I consistently leave the r off your, for some unknown reason.

    I second the recommendation to read our work out loud during the revision process. I do it once from my monitor, then do it again from a printed copy. I always find something more during that second read.

    Anyway, the whole self-editing and proofreading process is bizarre. Shows us too much about how our brains work (or don’t work).

    • Oooh, that’s another one. The missing r. I’m guilty of that too. I think one of the reasons I enjoy editing so much is that it’s like a word hunt game. Underline the misspellings and circle the tyos.

      I know, I’m crazy. : )

  7. I find myself doing little things similar to the ones you’ve pointed out. It’s frustrating sometimes. I do think you’re advice of slowing down and realizing the book publishing industry is a slow moving one anyway, helps tremendously. Have a great weekend! 🙂

    • Lisa, if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that writing a good book is like cooking a succulent stew in the crockpot. It takes time! An extra ten days or even thirty days on our hard drive usually doesn’t make a difference to the agent/editor, unless we spent those extra days playing horseshoes and not honing our craft.

  8. I printed out my ms for the very first time to see if I can spot some of these errors. I’ve looked at it too many times on the screen to actually see them. I’m hoping looking at it in a different manner will help me catch some of these!

    I constantly do the wrong double letter too – it’s one of my biggest annoyances!

    • Jemi,

      I love this stage of the edit. The printed page reads so differently than a computer screen. And it’s fun to see the words in relation to each other in a physical sense. I hope your search for double letters goes well!

  9. I have run across a book or two in my time, published, right there on the shelf at Barnes and Nobel, that have the most hideous and blatant typos, spelling errors and prolific commas I have ever seen. So, even if, especially if, your manuscript has been picked up with potential to sit on the shelf at Barnes and Nobel make sure you have every eyeball at your disposal take a look at said manuscript. Because while some readers will just pity the author for having a bad editor, many readers will ask themselves if the author has graduated elementary school yet. I imagine that those authors may not have Agent Awesome, because hopefully all those misspellings and mistakes won’t make it beyond him.

    • Ah, yes. We all have the tendency to criticize that which is not ours. We also compare.

      “I would never…”

      But, of course, we do. Even the best writer will have mistakes and even the most astute agents and editors will have read our mansucripts so often that there’s bound to be at least one typo in every novel. It’s the ones that are riddled with mistakes that hurt me to read.

      And thanks for being a great beta for me, btw. Your input was helpful.

  10. I knew that you knew the difference!

    Why? Because my nemesis is “their” and “there.” I know the difference, but my brain seems to spit it out phonetically when I’m writing. I am always amazed to read over a passage and find the wrong one glaring up at me, but it happens all the time.

    Good advice to not send anything out when tired – that only makes things worse!

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