I sat down at my computer to review the story I had written last week for the Weekly Challenge on Faithwriters. I was surprised to find a collection of very nice comments gathered at the bottom of the page. Eagerly, I set to reading the little notes other writers had left for me.
All of the comments were very kind, with a few offering up minor suggestions on words that were misused or presented incorrectly. This is the risk you take by announcing you welcome “red ink” (which means “I want criticism”). Of course, writers don't really welcome any criticism whatsoever, but it would be rude, not to mention a sign of weakness, to admit that. So we grit out teeth and say “Please, by all means, come pick the rotting flesh from the bare bones of my pitiful carcass of a story - tell me what you see wrong.”
Too melodramatic? It's what I do.
So, I had a little red ink (the more I looked at it, the more it looked like a wagonload of red ink). Nothing I couldn't handle, of course. I would just find the evidence that my version was correct and my attackers were wrong. Simple, yes?
Just one problem – the stupid internet was not supporting my thesis.
Oh, well, I figured. I should probably thank everyone anyway, right? I mean, that's the polite thing to do, right? I mean, you can't have people thinking you are a thin-skinned, paranoid freak who can't handle someone tearing apart the fabric of your life, right? Right?
So, to get even, I wrote “Thank You” notes.
Dutifully I set about the task. I decided at random to just start from the bottom of the comments and work my way back up to the first. It was pure coincidence that the last three had no red ink whatsoever – that had nothing at all to do with my decision to start there. It didn't. I'm serious. Fine, don't believe me. I don't care.
Anyway, the three thank you notes to Allison, CD and Graham went very smoothly. Each began with an opening that looked something like this:
Dear Allison, thank you very much for your kind comments on my challenge entry this week: (name of challenge entry omitted to protect the anonymity of this author for this week's challenge).
I was very pleased, except for one thing. The name of my entry, (name of challenge entry omitted to protect the anonymity of this author for this week's challenge), was very long. After three “thank yous,” I was really tired of typing (name of challenge entry omitted to protect the anonymity of this author for this week's challenge). So, I decided to cheat. I copied the opening paragraph from the “thank you” I sent to Graham and moved on to the next comment. The one from Ellen.
Ellen said several nice things about my piece, but then dropped the red ink hammer on me. It seems I had incorrectly used the word “shrunk” where I should have used “shrank”. Ellen let me know that “shrunk” need to be preceded by either “has” or “had”. I thanked Ellen for this piece of important information profusely.
Then I dashed off a nasty note to Disney to let them know their mega hit movie franchise should have been named Honey, I Has Shrunk the Kids.
Next up was Verna. She was nice enough to give me two pieces of red ink to obsess over. I had put a hyphen in “nondescript” - apparently not necessary – and I used the wrong slang word for the word “hen.” Wait a minute. There were no hens in my story. Hold on a second, I need to send Verna a new note.
Okay, back. I also let Verna know that I had seen another entry that also used a hyphen in “nondedscript.” I'll bet she's still looking for that one.
After Verna, I had two more comments that were blessedly devoid of “red ink” from Judith and Lynn. It was when I was about to hit “send” on the note to Lynn that I noticed something peculiar. Her message was a little shorter than the others, with the entire text fitting on my private messenger screen (all of the rest required scrolling to read the whole note).
There it was – at the top of the message being sent to Lynn:
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