Feel free to mock me...

So, my NaNo novel summary that I posted a few weeks ago had one word that was wrong. See, the novel was already beginning to show glimmers of itself over a year ago, and I wrote a short story that was meant to take place long before the novel but in the same setting, to help solidify some of those images. In that story I included various references to factory smoke.

A factory. I had this image of a sprawling, early industrial factory, something like this:
Well, I started questioning if that was the image that people would get from the word "factory." If it were a steampunk novel, then probably, but it didn't seem to conjure that image for me as I was doing my last minute, pre-November planning. I started thinking that what I wanted was more along the lines of a coal-burning power plant (especially a particular one alone I-80 up in Cheyenne), mashed up with an oil refinery and a grain elevator, and other such industrial complexes.

Power plant didn't feel quite right, either, so I decided to call it the Refinery. Except...this was the scramble before NaNo, remember, and somehow when I wrote that down, changing "Factory" to "Refinery," I mixed the two words together instead of changing it, and ended up with "Refectory."

And I kept writing that throughout November. NaNo doesn't give time to question yourself. By the time November was done, I had convinced myself that a refectory really was some sort of general word that encompassed all the things I was picturing. It wasn't until mid-December (when my characters actually arrived there) that I paused to question myself. The dictionary shocked me. A dining room in a monastery? That's not what I wanted! The image had become so ingrained that it took me awhile to trust that I hadn't somehow been using some secondary definition or something.

Nope. Refinery it is. Or maybe I'll go back to Factory--I love that picture of the sugar factory that was just a little ways south of here. But not Refectory.


Lauren Michelle said…
No mocking from me, because I know exactly what you're talking about. I recently reread something from 2007 and discovered I had used mule and donkey interchangeably. I about died of shame. I frickin' know they're not the same thing, I just wasn't paying enough attention to what I was doing. (Or, if I'm being really generous, maybe I had decided to change it midstream and didn't catch all the replacements. I really don't remember.)

More recently, I realized I've been using rifle and shotgun interchangeably, which is also very wrong and very embarrassing. Again, in my forebrain I know better, but some things just get turned off when you're plugging along I guess.
Daniel Ausema said…
Glad I'm not alone... I'm just still shaking my head at how convinced I'd become that it was really the right word.