Depending in whether you read my most recent Letter from Away in print or online (and if you read it online, when that happened) what you saw last week was quite possibly a mistake.

What you may have seen, instead of the polished wordsmithing of which I am far too proud, might instead have been the product of many hours spent in research prior to writing what I meant to submit – pages of notes with citations that provided the material used to support the blatant opinion that was meant for the page.

A lot can get discarded in the touch of fingers to keyboard.

As long ago as 1997, Judith Martin, who writes under the name of Miss Manners, cautioned her audience against the results of the rapid decision-making that comes with the power to send a message with the push of a button. In my haste to put the week’s writing behind me, I emailed the wrong document to my editors.

The difference between my perspective on a political candidate’s posturing and the words that person actually said is the difference between personal opinion and published fact. Last week’s foible gave you a glimpse of the reading I do before and during the writing.

In some ways, the full page of citations you can still and forever see in the print edition, demonstrates the effort that such pieces demand. Looking over that raw material can help a reader understand how editorial opinions are formed, but it is pretty dry reading. It might even have given you some appreciation for the importance of presentation. When I opened the paper that landed in my mailbox a week ago and saw what I had done, my first thought was of the readers who were trying to make sense of all that attribution.

My second thought was to call the editor and apologize. In the email conversation that followed, one of my editorial readers said he thought I might have been intentional in presenting the information and allowing you, the reader, to decide what to make of it. β€œIt basically worked on that level,” he wrote.

That was kind.

It is hard to escape the irony of a hasty error made while writing about personal responsibility. I won’t try. We all make mistakes. I am glad my recent one was not the kind that threatens anyone’s safety and grateful for the people at Courier Publications who cleaned up the worst of the mess.

Shlomit Auciello is a writer, photographer, and human ecologist who has lived in Midcoast Maine since 1988. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print, on and off since 1992, and is published here on a weekly basis.

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