Saturday, May 19, 2012

Be Accurate--Check Your Facts

By Keith N Fisher

I sat on my front porch trying to fix a corrupt file in order to submit a manuscript the other day. By the time I got it fixed and in the email my battery was flashing warnings. I sent the required documents before my computer slept, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Later, I plugged my computer in and reviewed my cover letter. I found two typos.

“Oh crap,” I thought. “They’re going to think I’m an idiot.”

While stewing about my blunder I thought of a subject I’ve written about before, but I found new object lessons, so I’m back on my soapbox.

I watched an interview the other day in which Lavell Edwards and Ron Mcbride talked a lot about the good old days. For those who don’t live in Utah, they were head football coaches for BYU and U of U. The rivalry between those two schools has been legendary.

The interviewer asked many questions that seemed to spark joyful responses in both men and you could tell they have a warm affection for each other. Many of their recollections brought memories back to me.

Toward the end of the program they spoke about the information age. They agreed they don’t use email and went on to complain about the inaccuracy of some of the blog writers and amateur newscasters on the Internet today. Even the pros, it seems, often get it wrong. Coach Mcbride talked about listening to the radio while driving one day. The radio host got the story completely wrong.

I thought about the absurdity of the situation: here was Ron Mcbride, the man who lived the events, listening to someone tell him how it really was.

As writers of fiction, many of us feel a need to blog. I write weekly here. Also, I write a more personal blog with book reviews and a blog about camp cooking. On occasion, I have gotten things wrong, so I know the danger. I’ve seen ill-advised Facebook statuses that should not have been written, and everyone knows about the possible errors on Wikipedia. I wonder if we will lose our history to those who write inaccuracy. Perhaps we might, if they write loud enough and long enough.

Just because we want a fact to be true doesn’t make it so. Still, if you get enough people to believe your version, does that change history?

As writers, regardless of whether we write fiction or nonfiction. Whether we blog or write short stories, we must be accurate. If we fail, the loss of our history will be partly our fault. Medical doctors take an oath. Perhaps writers should, too.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

1 comment:

Weaver said...

Good points here, Keith.