The Stink Bugs of a Writer’s World

There are stink bugs in the small upstairs room I use as my home office. They congregate near the one small window in the room. I sit in a comfy old chair in the middle of the little den, so I mostly ignore them and hope they’ll leave me alone. But sometimes I’ll be tapping on my laptop and an ugly brown stink bug will crawl across my 15-inch screen.

As my daughters would say, “OOOOH!”

I’ve decided that, for writers, typos are stink bugs. They pop up constantly and are hard to exterminate. In fact, I’ve noticed many “stink bugs” in published materials in the last few days. They appeared in publicity materials  from large, well-respected publishing houses. At least one was sloppy. I was surprised.

Why does this happen?

My belief is that people are insanely busy and saddled with unrealistic work expectations. In this crazy digital age, speed and quantity trump quality. No one overtly endorses that approach, but it shows up in the end product. Words fly every which way at a moment’s notice before proper clearance for takeoff.

I plead guilty. Typos show up in my work even though I’m in the habit of checking it carefully. The truth every writer knows: It’s hard to catch all the errors in your own copy. Last-minute changes can create typos and other mistakes. Simple revisions can be dangerous.

When possible and practical, I have others look at my copy before I hit send. But most of the time I don’t have that luxury. My main defense is to slow down, put work aside, and then return to the piece for a final check. I almost always find something on that last proof.

The infestation of typos and stink bugs is never ending.


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