I try not to write in haste, but lately I’ve noticed my email correspondence has become untidy. None of us is adept at editing our own work. Those of us who are paid for our writing are especially obligated to consider readers’ interpretations of our every word. Misunderstandings can sometimes, though not always, be avoided through cautious review and editing. When I set something aside and reread it the next day, or even just a few hours later, I’m often able to catch and correct embarrassing mistakes.
After sending off an electronic communiqué this afternoon, I mulled over what I could remember of it while cooking an omelet. The message was part of a lighthearted ongoing discussion of crowdsourcing, networking, and the value of agents. Most readers focus on the basic ideas in a message, but I have an unfailing tendency to notice individual words. The phrasing of something I’d just written was nagging at me incessantly as I flipped the omelet. Suddenly I realized why.
In my expeditious email message, I’d committed the digital equivalent of blurting out that I didn’t want to hitch myself to someone’s wagon. What I was actually thinking was that I didn’t want to hitch my wagon to a person’s star, which would have been a more appropriate expression of the compliment I intended. My
malapropism bungled metaphor wasn’t inaccurate, but I imagine it was confusing. I had to laugh, but the recipient of my email might not have been amused.
A friend (who shall remain nameless, unless she chooses to identify herself) recently dashed off the exclamation, “That’s my venue!” I knew she had meant to write that the subject of our conversation was her genre. I joked that it was a Freudian slip, because she has a scintillating personality that belongs on the stage.
To be honest, I’ve come to regard crowdsourcing as asking people to hitch themselves to a wagon of sorts. I’m not ruling it out as an innovative business model, but it needs considerable adjustment. To the email recipient who’s now scratching his head over my earlier blunder, “You read me right, either way, even though I didn’t realize what I’d said.”