Perhaps, one of the most difficult tasks I have handled was being the head moderator of the school paper publication. That position gave me countless stomach lurches, long- agonizing nights, and starving moments.
Why? I have learned one very important lesson…
I learned that no matter how closely you scrutinized, perused and rechecked words, sentences and paragraphs, errors would remain lurking somewhere…in the most unexpected places.
Days before publication, the sleepless nights, no appetite meals, and restless days are normal occurrences for me.
To lessen errors in printing, I generally lay-out the whole magazine and personally encode the articles. In addition, I would sit for long hours in the printing press looking thoroughly with everything in the magazine.
I try to forget the word errata. I know that there is no room for error…it’s simply not in my vocabulary. But, proofreading is not synonymous to “perfect reading”.
It is not a surprise really if one of my most hated scenarios is coming face to face with thousand newly printed magazines. It’s a good thing my office is a bit secluded so I can reread the magazine before distribution to the pupils.
One…two…as my eyes located the error I wanted to throttle myself and to shout for everybody to hear, “Why in the world I didn’t see it?”
My stomach would tighten, my heart would feel like it were about to burst with erratic breathing and I would wish dying right there and then. With closed eyes, I would bury my face to the bulk of thousand magazines in front of me.
While others excitedly indulged themselves to the shiny and colorful magazine and after I received congratulations, I would hide in the office fearfully anticipating the time that somebody would approached me about misspelled words and names or error in data…and I would then think of errata to calm my pounding heart.
If there is one thing I would really pray for was that I won’t hurt anybody with what was published in the magazine. The thought of causing pain to others was enough to punish me for days and give me that ever present knot in the stomach.
As I pray at night, every bead of the rosary was dedicated for every article in the magazine with an additional beg of mercy to all the saints I knew.
Most of the times, my fear had actually no basis. Those little errors popped out insignificant to the eyes of others. Nobody seemed to notice at all. But for me, those little mistakes were big enough to give me unutterable shame for not doing better.
The phrase, “If only…” would haunt me days after the distribution.
Most of the times, I would think of relinquishing my long agonizing days of encoding, layouting, editing and scrutinizing words by resigning from my position but quitting was not in my vocabulary either.
You see, life is like that. It is made of everyday imperfections. We commit mistakes, we hurt people, and we do nonsensical things.
At night, our actions would haunt us and we cringe in embarrassment. Unfortunately, we could not take back anymore the words we said, the actions we did and at times the things we wrote.
The positive side of the publication was that after printing, I could still do some repairs with errors as soon as I noticed it. I could forego my lunch and spent my whole break time pasting and covering the boo-boos.
In life, we could not cover up actions. However, we have the words, “I’m sorry” as our “erratum” enough to heal wounds and to mend broken hearts…