Is That a Flaw I See?

Monday, October 12, 2015

I spent a nervous Thursday and Friday waiting for UPS to deliver copies of In God We Trust so that I could sell them Saturday and Sunday at book sales events connected to a writers’ conference. I didn’t relax until they arrived at mid-day on Friday.

After they arrived, I inspected them. It was the first time I had seen the book in hard copy, and it looks great. Then I took a closer look at the picture on the front, which I took in Wisconsin in 2010, and my heart sank.

Looking above the chimney on the right-hand side of the picture, I saw a thin line. I must have had a hair on the lens when I took the picture, and I hadn’t noticed it before. There was nothing I could do about it for these first thirty copies, but I decided that as soon as I had time I would remove it from the picture and redo the cover. And once I saw the blemish, I couldn’t unsee it.

At the mass book signing on Sunday, I sat next to a friend and fellow author, Michael Poore. He complimented me on the cover and the photo, so I pointed out the flaw.

Then he did what I should have done myself. He took an even closer look. Where I saw a hair on the lens, he saw a bare branch hanging from a tree. But I couldn’t give up on the idea that I had used a dirty lens, so I noticed and pointed out the dot you can see farther up on the right, just below where the tree branches cross the steeple. Mike said it looked like a single leaf hanging from another branch.

When I got home and enlarged the original on the screen, I discovered that Mike was 75% correct and I was 100% wrong. What I thought was a hair is indeed a branch. The dot is not a leaf but is something (probably a light fixture) attached to the steeple by a long metal rod. But neither of them are flaws in the picture, and neither are my fault.

It’s so easy to see what we think are flaws when they are just part of the scene. I may be convinced that I received a rejection letter because my story isn’t good enough. Or you may think you missed out on that job opportunity because you blew the interview. But maybe the story just wasn’t a good fit for that particular magazine and God has a better job in mind for you. Sometimes we just need to trust and move on.

But now I have a different dilemma. Should I try to brush the branch and the light fixture out of the photo so that others don’t see them as flaws and think I messed up? Or should I trust my readers to view the picture with Mike’s more discerning eyes?

What do you think?

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