Monday, August 18, 2014

A Bear of a Challenge

Deb and Chuck making new friends
Accuracy in details. It's a bear of a challenge for writers, but one we must tackle regardless of how hairy it may be.

Not long ago I heard a writer speaking. Now sometimes speakers write and sometimes writers speak. This was the latter. And she did it well.

During her wonderfully inspiring keynote address to a room full of fellow writers, this highly acclaimed author used a phrase that really resonated with me. She claimed it as a quote from one of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, The Horse and His Boy. 

Well, as it happens, I had just finished listening to the CD (audio) version of that very book on my way to the conference. (Okay - don't ask why a grown woman with no children in the car chooses to listen to the Chronicles of Narnia over all the murder mysteries, romances, and motivational books on her shelf. It was either that or Harry Potter, and I've just about worn those out.) 

But you know what? For the life of me, I could not recall that specific phrase from anywhere in the book. And it was one of those rare, awesome memory-worms that I definitely would have noticed. 

So thinking maybe somehow it had been edited out of the audio version, I came home from the conference and dusted off my 35-year-old print copy of The Horse and His Boy and proceeded to rifle through the pages, paying particular attention to the sections that seemed most likely to contain the afore-mentioned phrase.


So I began at the front and for the next four hours, read the book from cover to cover, painstakingly searching for this handful of artfully sculpted words that I would love to use in context and reference correctly in my own work.

It simply wasn't there. 


If only this well-known author, who certainly knew better, had expended the energy to check her sources and reference her quotes correctly, it would have saved me many hours of effort and frustration. As it is, I have this terrific quote and no one to attribute it to. 

So please. Be a great writer instead of a good one. Make the effort to include accurate attributions and references in your work. And I'll be the first to reward you with a great big bear hug.