A Stitch in Time Will Make You a Better Writer

“A stitch in time, saves nine.” 

That’s what my Grandma used to say.  Usually while she sat in her rocking chair with a pile of mending in her lap, a needle in one hand and her trusty silver thimble on the first finger of her other hand.  That’s when she did her best dispensing of wisdom.

“Yes, child,” she would say.  “Haste makes waste.  Ever’ time.   Remember that, young-un’.  Act in haste, repent at leisure.”

Clearly, Grandma was trying to convey a message to me.  And I have learned to heed her warnings when it comes to doing research.

Here’s the thing:  Today, quickie research can be done pretty easily.  Have a question?  Ask.com. Require a statistic?  Look it up on the computer.  Need a quote or a source or a couple of interesting facts?  Google it. Looking for a cute anecdote to round out your piece?  You’ll find it on the internet.  Wouldn’t Grandma be amazed!

Of course, a quickie search allows for lots of errors.  But evidently that was all some writer did when putting together a piece for Parade magazine’s America By The Numbers story, printed May 1, 2011.  Otherwise, that writer would not have listed Springfield, Oregon, as the nation’s strip club capital because it most certainly is not, as the city officials immediately, and in no uncertain terms, let the magazine know.  Seems in this case the writer didn’t even bother to go to the internet at all, where even a cursory search would have shown the mistake, but was satisfied to restrict research to a Portland, Oregon-based alternative weekly.  Hmmm.

In an apology statement, Parade editor Maggie Murphy wrote:  “We regret not double-checking before publication with the Springfield mayor’s office, which brought this error to our attention.  We apologize and want to set the record straight.”

Regret not double-checking the facts?  Ya’ think?   Sure it takes longer to check and double-check, but any writer worth his or her salt knows the importance of accuracy.  

Thanks, Grandma, for passing along that lesson.  As you used to say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

“It takes a lot of effort putting those fact sheets together.  Everything has to be double checked, and all of the statements have to be true.”

~Amelia Horton, Writer~



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2 responses to “A Stitch in Time Will Make You a Better Writer

  1. Ian Bennett

    There’s a politician up here in BC who caught wind of a random cross-burning incident that occurred in Prince George, Maryland. Thinking it was Prince George, BC, the city where I live, she called a press conference at which she declared, “If you don’t think we have racism problems in our province, as I speak they’re burning crosses on lawns in Prince George!” Oops.

  2. Ooops is right~! Guess she’ll be remembered in Prince George!

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