All The Small Things

If “the devil is in the details” then I’m possessed by a demon that laughs at exorcism. I joke about me being part robot. I often say that I can get more out of a 24 day than most people get out of a month. The truth is, I accomplish the big things – my family is provided for, I have a career, this blog is never neglected – but I ignore or mismanage the smaller things in life that leave me feeling freakishly worried.

Most of the negativity in my life is my fault. Yesterday, while exchanging Happy New Year pleasantries with my writer friends, one of them, the excellent poet Marian –, said something to me that felt like a cold shower on my face after an all night New Year’s Eve drunken bender.

“You aren’t the best when it comes to spelling. It took a long time for me to read and comment you regularly because of the typos and small mistakes. They add up, you know.”

Marian is great to me. She’s a brilliant writer with a terrific sense of humor who treats me like a member of her family. Her comment was in the middle of a paragraph of nice. The way my brain works allows for most of the positive to be drowned by the tiniest of negative. I appreciate her pointing this out. It led to a blog post.

As I fine tooth comb the novel I wrote last year, in hope of getting it published, I’m confident in the big parts  – story, characters, style – the book is far from being ready to be read because of the errors in punctuation, spelling, adverb excess, and sentence fragments. How many times have you read a book, watched a television show or listened to a CD and said to yourself “you, know, this would be better if they’d corrected this or paid attention to that”?

The devil is in the details in my life. Age is wrecking my memory, eyesight, and organizational skills. Unless I have a list, don’t send me to the grocery story. My children are known as “that one”, “what’s her name”, and “hey you”. My wife has a nickname, Bobina, that has 4 variations, yet, I will point and say “hey, whatever”. This all leads to bad habits that can crush creativity and efficiency. This isn’t good for a husband, father, communications project manager, and aspiring novelist.

I realize it’s sunday and writing about the devil seems inappropriate, but I’m weird and metaphors are hella wicked awesome.

As you peruse the internet today and read about people pledging to lose weight, be better with their finances, and cut down on their social media, do me a favor and ask yourself, “if these maroons threw holy water on their bad habits, would their devil scram?” Pat yourself on the back for using the words maroon and scram, and come back here. I’m not promising anything but I will write a lot, and try to be better.

Happy New Year. Delve into Twelve.

Today’s song is from Blink 182. I’m not the biggest fan of the power pop not very punks but this song reps what I’m talking about. Also, it will get you going so you can defeat the devil in your details. Here’s All The Small Things….

16 responses to “All The Small Things

  1. Seriously, man, I wish I had the problem of not paying attention to the details. OCD can be a bitch sometimes and it always makes me late with work or just completely not finishing it.

    That said, one of things I’m trying to fix is the exact opposite of what you’re talking about. I need to let go of that little devil in the details.

  2. I have to say that I’m an editor, and that has never crossed my mind in relation to your posts for some reason. Tweets? Maybe, as everyone does what they can to abbreviate things, but your posts (not the fiction ones, as to be honest, I don’t read those as often) have always come across as polished and entirely enjoyable to me. Then again, that’s just me.

    At any rate, we can always take constructive criticism to improve ourselves, whether it’s with our writing or anything else. As long as it doesn’t cause paralyzing self-doubt, it’s simply another opinion to do with what you choose.

    • also, the real reason was that i refused to read your white-on-black blog, on principle.
      AND THE MOST IMPORTANT PART is that your writing is so good that i read it and got hooked anyway! sigh.

  3. Marian always catches my typos.

    And I love her for it, even while my cheeks flame in the privacy of my little writing corner.

    The Devil is in the details, but your heart–and your stories–have wings and a halo.

    Happy New Year, friend.

  4. Everyone has weaknesses in their writing. It’d be delusional to think otherwise. I’m sure you were aware of what they were, but until someone pointed it out to you, you didn’t pay attention to them, or felt they were worth fixing. Maybe you thought no one noticed.

    When reading blogs, emails, comments on blogs, etc, I can forgive a lot of the “small” errors so long as the writing makes sense. I tend to be from the camp of Marian—I’m pedantic with my writing, but I’ve learned to be less so as a reader. I try to look beyond the minor errors to see the bigger picture—the writing style, storytelling, ability to entice. If I didn’t do that, I’d likely not be reading your blog and your stories. They are brilliantly written, but will be improved once edited professionally.

    To get a book published, the bar goes way up—as it should. Once people pay money for it, they don’t want to see errors of any kind. It doesn’t matter if they’re paying 1.99 or 9.99 for your book. Does that mean your spelling will be perfect? No, but it will be as perfect as it can be. The last thing you want is to have a reader pulled out of your story because they are fixated on the details such as spelling and grammar mistakes.

    If self-publishing, it’s even more important to be freakish about removing the small mistakes. You are writer, publisher, and promoter. It’s worth the time to do it properly because the great story is a reflection of you, but so are the small errors. Why dilute a wonderful read with mistakes that can be fixed?

    Happy New Year, Lance. Great post to read today,

  5. Lance, you’ve raised some excellent points. On one hand, it saves us to “not sweat the small stuff,” but on the other hand, many, many “small stuffs” lead up to a bigger problem. What’s good is not sweating the small stuff in people we care about, but for our own sanity, and efficiency and survival, it is good to pay attention to all the little details.

    Happy New Year, Lance. Thanks for the nice comment. I’m glad we know each other in this writer’s world.

  6. i tend to forgive spelling and grammar mistakes in blogs, (but not in books.)

    In blogs, I admire people that are not paralyzed by pickiness and just get on with it and post stuff. I’ve written blog entries, then read them over and found mistakes or questions I would have had to do research to correct so I just dumped them. This kind of terrible self-consciousness stifles your writing …uuhh… “terribly.”

    I’m lucky to have a critique partner that has taught me how to spell sentence (it was always sentance) and to put the punctuation INSIDE the quotes. But I’m just learning the rest of the stuff and I hope that I can start being willing to be rough–sometimes–just to get things posted. So–here I go, I didn’t even proof this–well I mean only once, anyway.

    I love your posts.


    • thanks for the comments guys…i think Karen saw where I was going. I’m really talking about fixing the details in every day life so that bad habits don’t affect your dreams.

  7. I always discover some stupid typo in a post the second I hit submit. It’s weird how I won’t see it in word or in the blog post until that magic button is hit :)

    Those small details are a bitch. But as long as it’s just some Ty
    Is, no fears. Those are easily fixed. Crap stories aren’t and you don’t have that problem :)

  8. Happy New Year! And not all power pop is bad…especially on Sundays! Here’s to aging gracefully (uh, yeah…right!) and more words in 2012. (said the fond appreciator of “good” typos!) Let’s those fingers fly!

  9. You know, I’d personally like to think that most of the great writers out there are actually very poor spellers, or grammarians, or have some other fault. Luckily that’s why Editors exist! I, too, am very bad with details except in those cases where I’m working on something in which I’m really emotionally invested.

    What’s my point? I like your resolution, but just make sure that you don’t sacrifice the macro by re-focusing on the micro. The people around you already know where your strengths lie, and where they don’t. They already love you (or tolerate you, depending on who they are in your life). Make sure that if you’re improving on something, you’re doing it for *you*.

    Also, I know you already have some writer friends who you’ve tapped for editing. If you ever need another, I would be very happy to help out. I promise to be constructively merciless (which is what I would hope to get from someone editing my work).

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