Perfection. It doesn’t exist. You know that, right? Not in a single geographical location. Not in writing. There’ll always be a compromise, an error, room for improvement.
Much of my week has been spent pondering an apostrophe. You see, it’s in the wrong place. On the first page of my book, ‘Dunster’s Calling’. How many times have I read that line and not seen the error? How many other people have seen it? How many have since told me not to worry, as they didn’t notice it either? Are they just being kind? Should I recall every book? Refund every purchase? Are the goods so damaged as to negate the entire purpose of the book?
Just stop it, Tracey! It’s an apostrophe, for crying out loud! Look at what’s going on in the world. Should I really be spending another single minute worrying about an apostrophe?
Yes, actually. Because that’s what I do. I write, and there are rules for writing. And I know the rules for apostrophe usage. An errant apostrophe means I have no street cred. I failed.
Now I’m questioning everything. Confidence has fragile wings. If I can’t get the small stuff right, can I be trusted with the big stuff, like where I live? Am I not really suffering from hireth? Is Exmoor not really the perfect fit for me? Have I missed a thousand geographical apostrophes that, if I’d noticed them, would have directed me to consider moving somewhere other than Exmoor? Should I just maintain my expat status here in the US?
J.K. Rowling saves me. She tells me I can fail and still be okay. I can move back to England and if it’s a mistake, I can go somewhere else. I can miss typos—okay, not too many—and still be a writer. I can try again, fail better, live as an expat, or not, in the liberating knowledge that a perfect decision doesn’t exist.
But imperfection still stings. After all, it’s my name on the cover of the book, or on the relocation decision. The Buck Stop’s Here.
Damn it! I hate apostrophes.
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2 thoughts on “Apostrophobia and Expat Fears”
My brother once sent me a postcard (which, strangely enough, seems to have been produced by the team at Ikea) which read “Only when sleeping do we make no mistakes”. Life without errors would be dull indeed and despite what you may be thinking, other people’s books (mine included) have their fair share too. I’m reading a self-help guide at the moment which suggests we aim for excellence, not perfection. Good luck with your hireth pondering and as you’ve probably concluded, very few decisions are un-doable, if necessary 😉
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‘Excellence, not perfection.’ Love it! Having read your ‘Saffron Sweeting’ series of novels, I can tell readers you set the bar very high for the rest of us when it comes to error-free publishing! Thanks for your encouragement.