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Copyright 2009-2010 by
Mary Brotherton
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Inside my Brain

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

It's to be expected...and feared, I guess. I just accept it as part of the job as a writer. I've been getting a bit of fan mail - either emails sent to me or to the editor, and sometimes a phone call, praising my work, or thanking me for promoting an event so well that the turnout was twice what has been historical or expected. Those are the kinds of messages I really like.

Two months ago, I got a little blast. One was an email from an estranged son, informing me that I'd been Oprah 'ed. He claimed that what I had written about his father was 90% bogus, and that I should have verified my information before having it published. My sources were reliable, I think: the man who lived the story (the senior of the two men in question); a book for his trade that he had written and distributed among his peers (as well as a copy he gave to me); and numerous online sites which were published by universities. Now, I'm not implying that my three main sources could not have been faulty, or that my article was infallible; but I wrote the son and asked him to please give me the legitimate story, so that I could have the correct information. He has not bothered to respond. He was quick enough to blast me when he wanted to point out the errors of my ways - why hasn't he been so forthcoming to help me correct the mistake? I believe it was because I did not mention him in the article - but at his father's request, I made no mention of the fact that he, too, is an author. His father has disinherited him, or as he said, "I have divorced my son. I have no son!" How sad.

Then, last month, I wrote another article about a woman athelete. I thought it was a nice article, and I sent her a copy of it. She wasn't satisfied. "Don't I even get a mention for winning the race this past week!?" I had to remind this college professor that when I sent her my version of the article, I also told her "this is my version of the article as submitted to the publisher." In addition, I told her when the paper was scheduled to be published, and that I appreciated her help in getting the additional information for the article. I also reminded her of the date of my email to her. Her triumphant race was a week later. The newspaper is a monthly. There is no way that I could have included her race in my article.

All in all, I have had much more positive praise than contrary criticism, so that makes me happy.