This may have happened to you, too. I have a really good friend, someone who knows me, my personal shorthand, and if I had any fears or insecurities about my work – which of course I don’t – she’d know them. Because no doubt we’d have written tons of emails back and forth in which, okay, I may have admitted to a couple of them. And so they’d all be there in a long email chain. I think you know where this is going . . . Last night, when I responded to an email she’d sent, my laptop decided to play a practical joke on me and randomly add two other email addresses to the “recipient” line. In accordance with some sort of Murhpy’s Law, I realized it a split second after I hit “send.” One of the email addresses was firstname.lastname@example.org. No need to worry about that one (I hope). The other was to someone I know professionally, respect immensely, and who thank god has a great sense of humor.
Even so, I felt utterly exposed. And mortified. I consoled myself by thinking, yep, this is another example of what story is about. The things we don’t say. I mean, which do you think would be more interesting: accidentally receiving someone’s confident sounding professional email, or one that revealed what they were really thinking? Something that gave you a glimpse of what sounding professional actually cost them. After all, the old saw is, “Never let ‘em see you sweat,” not “Don’t sweat.” Stories are about sweating. They’re about what your protagonist is really thinking when she says, “Sure, no problem, I’d love to!”
And, since misery loves company, I’m curious. What email would most mortify you if it were accidentally forwarded to a random person in your address book? Or better yet (not to mention safer) what about your protagonist? What would most mortify them?