In which I panic…

Today I got an email that scared me senseless. The sender flashed in the corner, I clicked it open without thinking, and then I panicked. Bright red flush, rereading the content…then getting up and running over to someone who could calm me, give me advice.*

Now, the content of this email was not rude, or nasty, or calling me a useless, ridiculous girl (everyone assumes that they’re going to receive that email, right?). On the contrary it was lovely, chatty, with one or two pertinent questions thrown in. And I have no idea why it panicked me to the extent that it did (it did warrant some concern I’m not completely insane but, unfortunately, a measured response was beyond me).

I always have that fear. That fear that someone has spotted a mistake, that you have done something wrong. Like when you go on holiday for two weeks then have to log on for your first day back…am I the only one that assumes that you are going to walk in to the office only for your desk to be boxed up with a cutting post-it note perched nattily on top, saying merely “Ahahaa, don’t bother sitting down…we’ve all figured out you have no idea what you are doing. Leave now and don’t come back”? Yes?

It may be an editor thing…we spend our days checking and double-checking, wielding a red pen and an eagle eye. There is always the concern that, after spotting, amending and asking for clarification on someone else’s errors, they are going to turn around and smugly point out everything you’ve done wrong. I swear, I die a little inside when I re-read an email sent to an author, or get final corrections in for an article with that misspelling, that extra comma that I should have spotted but didn’t. Is it not enough that we torture ourselves? There isn’t an editor I know that hasn’t, at one stage or another, frantically opened file after file, or sat up in bed in a cold sweat, concerned that they have sent something off with the incorrect name on the book, the wrong year on the journal (ok, I may have actually done this one…)

Editorial karma? I think it must exist. Am I the only one this happens to?

* After this “excitement” I did threat go join a convent in order to get away from the stress of everyday life. Don’t think I’ll carry through with that one, they wouldn’t let me keep my iphone…


8 Comments on “In which I panic…”

  1. Yes, I’ve got the same problem. Whenever I get the reviewed versions of my translations or the Quality Check files I cringe expecting it to be a negative one.
    However, I think that fear is what makes us take care in our work. I find over-confidence makes you reckless.
    Will you have twitter from the convent?

    • Muddled says:

      Entry to the convent is currently dependent on whether they have internet access, if they’ll let me keep my iphone, and on having a fairly major spiritual overhaul. So I think I’ll be staying put for a while…

  2. I am not an editor and I have that panic. Especially after being away for a few days.

    I think it just comes from being treated like an adult despite knowing that inside I’m just a small, slightly mad child.

    Still. Haven’t been caught out yet. So that’s something.

    • Muddled says:

      It is something! Go us! And as Sarah says, it means we care and put effort into the job…which is positive. Still, I could do without the panic, tbh.

  3. I’m not an editor, but I feel your fear! I’m always checking and double checking, and I still always miss something. And I always, always know 5 seconds after I pressed send that I didn’t put that capital in, or I forgot something vital that makes me look like an idiot.

    I know you’re an excellent editor, and I’m looking forward to sending you my first proper work as I know you’ll do an excellent job. So there.

  4. Babs says:

    Umm did u get an email saying you’d made a mistake or was this all irrational? I feel I need clarification because I don’t have this fear you speak of, both because I listen to instructions and do my best, work for patient people who accept I make mistakes sometimes and I work in gap so let’s be honest… not a real issue

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