At that point I stopped listening to the homily.
Paul McCartney is not the sole surviving Beatle. Unless I missed something, Ringo Starr is still alive. I hadn't read it in the news or heard about Ringo's death on TV. No way I could've missed something newsworthy like that.
Confession time: In the mid-60s, I attended an all-girls' Catholic high school and got caught up in Beatlemania. Our cliques were divided along musical tastes. There was a group who loved the Beatles (I was in that group). There was Clare and her group who loved the Beach Boys. And then there was everyone else.
Back then I could tell you the birthdate of each of the Beatles. I still remember that Paul is the only left-handed guitar player in the group. I knew the drummer Ringo Starr's real name is Richard Starkey, he's the only Beatle with blue eyes, and the sole Catholic (not sure if that's still true).
One of our nuns chided us for our obsession with the Beatles. She told us that five years after graduation no one would remember the Beatles. Umm. I don't think so.
The good news is that Ringo Starr is not dead. I visited Ringo's website this morning. He is still alive and planning a tour with his All Starr Band later this year.
Which brings me to the point of this post.
In writing and in speaking, facts are important. If you don't get them right you risk losing your audience, the same way I zoned out yesterday remembering the Beatles instead of thinking about how wonderful it would be if more people attended Sunday Mass.
Several years ago I attended a writers' conference where one presenter talked about the topic of how important it is for writers, including fiction writers, to get their facts straight. The speaker called it verisimilitude, which means (I looked it up for meaning and spelling): "the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability."
As someone who has been guilty on occasion of not having verisimilitude in her writing, I speak from experience.
In the first critique group I belonged to I read an essay about going to a book fair with my sister and finding a Latin book that had once belonged to the boy who took me to my grade school's eighth-grade dance and who later died in Vietnam.
The essay was based on an actual experience, but I embelished one of the details for dramatic effect. In my essay I wrote that my sister and I met up in the snack bar, where I showed her the book, when we actually met up at the drinking fountain. No big deal, right? Not for one reader.
The leader of the critique group called me out on the fact that there was no snack bar at the book fair. He knew that because he was a long-time volunteer at the book fair. Even though the crux of my essay was true, because I changed that one small detail, I lost credibility with him.
The lesson I learned was to check my facts and don't embellish minor details in non-fiction.
In the current critique group I belong to, we have several spot-on fact checkers who can catch even the slightest mistake or minor detail that doesn't ring true.
The point of this