I had the privilege of speaking to a night school short fiction class this evening. They all seemed in to it (writing) and on to it (ur, life).
Only one hiccup...
They'd been given a copy of my story 'Copies' the week before, and I was asked to read a passage from it. Fine. I knew about this in advance. I had my copy of Essential New Zealand Short Stories with me (I wasn't about to pass up my first chance to give a reading from an actual book rather than an A4 printout). I chose to start at the beginning, but what did I find in the fourth paragraph? Yup, a typo.
"One of his first projects was copying of the photo of the Mona Lisa..."
Damn you, Rogue Of.
When I got home just now I ran to my bookshelf and pulled out my copy of Best NZ Fiction #5, where 'Copies' first appeared...
Double damn you, Rogue Of.
How many times did I read over this blunder? How many other people missed this before it went to print (twice)? Worse: how many people have picked this blunder up since it was unleashed upon the world...?
Take a breath.
This isn't a biggy. What's done is done, and all that.
The problem, though, was that I've just handed back the final proofs for my short story collection, A Man Melting, which includes 'Copies' (round round get around, it gets around). Have I just blundered in triplicate?
Panic. I don't have the proofs, how can I be sure...
I opened up the word document for my collection, already composing the hapless, panicked email to my editor in my head, but what's this...
"One of his first projects was a photocopy of the photo of the Mona Lisa..."
Still two Of's, but neither is rogue. Hurrah.
I don't know when I changed this sentence, or why. I never went from my Word file to my bookshelf looking for a grammar bungle... I'm not even sure about the doubling up of 'photo' in the revised sentence... but it's grammatically correct (hurrah), if a bit cumbersome.
But maybe I'm reading over some other error. Maybe the sentence was changed from the Word file I submitted to the final proof...
Heck, this is only one sentence of 7,000 in my collection. There's bound to be more slip-ups. Alack, alas, ah well.
I just hope one doesn't pop up during a public reading again.