A fortuitous coincidence

They say “There’s no such thing as coincidence.”

I say: “Bollocks.”

Because yesterday something happened which was definitely coincidental.

I was reading an interesting book on marketing, written by a retired professor of European medieval history.

And when I wasn’t reading that, I was revising A Perfect Circle to prepare it for re-publication.

In the book I was reading, the author made a comment regarding Charlemagne, and coincidentally (it must have been, don’t you think?) I was precisely at the point in my manuscript where I referred to his three sons. But the information in the book I was reading was a contradiction of what I had written. The other author had written that he only had three daughters.

The Emperor Charlemagne

I am obviously not a historian, and don’t pretend to be. Most, but not all of my research is done on the Internet, which is notoriously unreliable, and so I always check, double-check and check again at least three dependable sources to try and ensure that any information I include is correct, and I had done that at the time of writing the original manuscript some years ago. But I realised that I had my facts wrong, because the other writer knows the subject far better than I do. Yet I did know that Charlemagne had many children, including sons.

So I wrote to her and asked if she could clarify. She was kind enough to write back and confirm that my facts were indeed wrong. However, what this did was to bring to light in her own book the fact that a short phrase was missing from a particular passage, and that had caused the confusion.

She would amend that, and I would rectify the factual error in my manuscript. Now, if that isn’t a coincidence, what is it?

What surprised me is that my manuscript was very thoroughly edited by the in-house editors of one of the world’s largest publishers, who are meticulous in checking facts, yet a glaring error had slipped their net.

So as well as proving that there is such a thing as coincidence, I think it also proves that even the most skilled editors are fallible. 🙂

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