Our topic this month is Mistakes. My first thought when I sat down to write this was, hum, personal, professional, literary, embarrassing, so many to choose from! Then, I turned the page on my Susie Toronto Calendar to see if Tuesday was some sort of holiday, and low and behold, the month page for June is titled ‘Epic Mistake #5372 That I Made on Purpose’. Is it something in the air? Could it be karma? What if it’s ALL a mistake?

That’s the thing about mistakes. I have always believed that you don’t grow if you don’t err. While I don’t deliberately start out to mess up, I have to admit a fondness for the road not taken. And you know what, sometimes there is a reason there’re weeds and rocks all over that path, but most times, it’s a heck of a lot more fun.

My personal experience with mistakes started quite young. I was the kid you never wanted to have. I jumped from second story windows on a dare. Put together Huck Finn rafts and rode them to the middle of a working river, where they sank. Tied bed sheets together to get out of my window to see the Beatles. Hopped on planes, hitchhiked and lived rough throughout Europe. Flew to Jamaica, hitchhiked to Negril, and lived in a palm frond hut on the endless beach. Signed on as a cook on an Island hopping freighter to see the rest of the Caribbean, when I had no idea how to boil water.

You get the picture. Any of those could have been huge mistakes. And I’m pretty sure I was lucky none of them were. They all taught me something, either about myself, or doing it better. After all, the second time I went out my bedroom window, I didn’t jump! Progress. Each and every one of these ‘mistakes’ enriched my life, Each fueled my creativity, most gave me confidence, all taught me to look for unusual ways to solve problems. And that thing about cooking on the freighter. Give me three ingredients and I can make a gourmet meal. Anytime, anywhere. I was the original Iron Chef, with appliances on gimbals!

Mistakes are all about getting it right. The first book in my Hayden Kent series, Death by Blue Water, is written in the close third point of view. Naturally, when I started the second book, Death by Doubloons, I began it in close third. Hayden refused to go beyond chapter three. She was the unhappiest character in the world of writers. Still, I defied her, continued to plod on and write her in close third. It was awful. I hated the book, I hated Hayden. I put the book aside and started Death Dive, but I knew that Doubloons had to come first. I raged, edited, deleted, researched, and then realized, I’d made a huge mistake. This particular book needed to be told by Hayden, and dang it, she wanted her platform. Toss twelve or so tortured chapters. Start over. Write in the first person. Book flowed.

So, make mistakes. Be prepared to pay the consequences. There will be some, and some you will regret all your life. Always admit it if you are wrong. Admitting responsibility is the first step to revision. Every writer knows, that’s how you get to start over.

How have your mistakes turned out?

How have your mistakes turned out?

Author: kaitcarson

I write mysteries set in South Florida. The Hayden Kent series is set in the Florida Keys. Hayden is a SCUBA diving paralegal who keeps finding bodies. Underwater, no one can hear you scream! Catherine Swope is a Miami Realtor with a penchant for finding bodies in the darndest places. I live in an airpark in Fort Denaud, FL with my husband, five cats, and a flock of conures. And oh yes, a Piper Cherokee 6 in the hangar!


  1. Wow, Kait, what an interesting life you’ve led! If a life choice doesn’t turn out badly, then is it still a mistake? I hear your pain with Hayden, though. So glad you found the way to fix it!


  2. Hi Sue, ummmm, not for me, but yes, I think they still are, only because there are easier (and sometimes better) ways to get the same result. Except maybe the cooking thing. Isn’t it amazing how our characters take charge. Does this happen to plotters? Are you a plotter


  3. I think it’s not uncommon for characters to take over – plotter or pantser. I know mine have looked me square in the eye at times and said, “No way, lady. Ain’t gonna happen that way.”

    I’ve long believe you learn more from mistakes than successes. And I think something can technically be a “mistake,” but turn out better than if you’d done it the “right” way.


  4. Kait, wow! You are such an adventurer. It’s impressive. Love the story about how changing POV worked, too. (And I’m a plotter–but only initially: I come up actions for each chapter but then during the writing, all sorts of things change.)


  5. @Mary, Sometimes I think I should just teach my characters to keyboard and let them have at it. Wow, Sci Fi idea….. I definitely agree about the wrong road sometimes being the best.


  6. @ Cynthia, Don’t you love it when the story takes over. I have literally sat in my chair waiting to find out what happened next. Not so adventurous. It never occurred to me that anything could go wrong, What’s that quote about children and fools? It could be right.


  7. Late arrival. . .love this post. I hate making mistakes, but I’m trying to embrace them more easily because I think you do learn so much from those experiences. My WIP has been written from just about every POV–and I really, really resisted first person, but that’s when it started working. Go figure! Loved Death by Blue Water, BTW. Awesome read!


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