Friday, April 18, 2014

Wisdom from Mark Twain

Truer words, never written.

The difference between the almost-right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning-bug & the lightning. 


You think you are reading proof, whereas you are merely reading your own mind; your statement of the thing is full of holes & vacancies but you don't know it, because you are filling them from your mind as you go along. Sometimes--but not often enough--the printer's proof-reader saves you--& offends you--with this cold sign in the margin: (?) & you search the passage & find that the insulter is right--it doesn't say what you thought it did: the gas-fixtures are there, but you didn't light the jets.

 Both quotes are from Mark Twain. The first one should be every writer's first and last ambition--find the right word. The second provides both an explanation as to why proofreading one's own work is so dang hard, and allows for no excuses. Sigh. No excuses.