Wednesday morning couldn’t come fast enough. It was October 1987 and I was itching to experience the thrill of opening City Pages, a free weekly Minneapolis newspaper, and finding my very first byline.
My first published piece was a short one, only six paragraphs long, that recounted the story of Pat Anthony, a 48-year-old South African woman who gave birth to her daughter’s test-tube triplets. As the world’s first surrogate mother of her own grandchildren, Anthony signed a lucrative deal with The Mail on Sunday, a British newspaper, which granted it exclusive rights to the story.
I was excited to see this particular story in print because the Minnesota Twins were in the thick of a pennant chase that would eventually culminate in their first World Series title. The confluence of these two seemingly disparate stories presented me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pull off a rare triple pun. Cackling at my cleverness, I closed the piece by comparing the “payoff birth of the triplets” with the “playoff berth of the Twins.”
Finally, Wednesday morning arrived and I tore downtown to pick up a City Pages. There it was on page three: All in the Family, my first professional article! I grinned like a fool reading through it, reveling in the joy of sharing this ultimate pun with the world.
I reached the end of the piece and, in the split-second it took to register that my brilliant triple play was missing, I was consumed with panic and horror. GAH! The editor had chopped off the last paragraph to make the story fit! I stared at the final paragraph in disbelief, desperately trying to will my triumphant masterstroke into existence. Finally, I walked off in a daze, sadder but wiser, my faith in the infallibility of editors a distant memory.
I wish I could say that this was the only time I was on the wrong end of an editorial snafu. But eleven years later, it was déjà vu all over again. I had written up brief Q&A’s with a handful of prominent Minnesota businesspeople about their love of golf for a Twin CIties business magazine.
I picked up a copy of the March issue hot off the press and headed over to a nearby food court to peruse it over a Blimpie’s turkey sub. The first few interviews looked fine but when I began reading Rick Born’s Q&A, I once again froze in horror.
I had asked Born, the CEO of Born Information Services, Inc., to share a memorable golfing experience. As part of his answer, he said, “I went out to Los Angeles and played with Glenn Frey and his manager at Bel Air Country Club.” I was confident that readers would recognize Frey as a member of the iconic rock band, the Eagles; but to make sure, I added “[from the Eagles]” after Frey’s name.
The moment I read what was actually printed was so surreal that I remember wondering if I was being pranked by Candid Camera. But no, the addition of one word by a clueless copyeditor had sent my world spinning out of control. The sentence now read: “I went out to Los Angeles and played with Glenn Frey [from the Philadelphia Eagles] and his manager at Bel Air Country Club.”
Deeply embarrassed, I called Rick and apologized for the gaffe. Fortunately, he had a sense of humor and enjoyed the image of a rock legend knocking heads on the football field. He told me not to worry, that he would be seeing Glenn again soon and that he was sure Glenn would get a kick out of it.
The moral of the story? If you don’t want your precious prose tampered with, stick to blogging. Otherwise, keep in mind that, as unlikely as it sounds, editors are people too. Besides, we all mistakes make.
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ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the one book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.
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