I got every author’s favourite email this week – an acceptance letter. My short story “High Tide” will be included in Red Cape Publishing’s anthology “Elements of Horror: Water”. There were only two changes they wanted to make and one was a typo. The other was a very silly spelling mistake that took me right back to when I was 16 and in the exam hall.
Homophones trip me up. This one was coarse grass. I’d typed course grass. I remember sitting in the exam hall at 16, writing a composition for my English Language O’Level. I couldn’t remember how to spell the past tense of read and I couldn’t believe that the present tense and past tense of a word could be exactly the same. In any other environment I would have reached the correct conclusion but this was under exam conditions and it was holding up my composition. In the end I used “red”, knowing it was incorrect but assuming because it was a homophone that the examiner would understand what I meant. I guess they did because I passed the exam with flying colours, but that experience and the horror of not being able to find the right word have stayed with me over 30 years later.
So here’s to silly spelling mistakes and having an editor to correct them for us.