I was dashing off an e-mail just now, and I used the word gleam in the sense of examining some documents and deriving meaning.
Something struck me as odd about the word. It turns out that I really meant glean. It’s a good thing I turned instantly to my cyber-buddy Dictionary.com to verify my spelling and usage, and sure enough: Gleam: a flash or beam of light. Glean: to gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit. Of course, these are only the first definitions for each, but as you can see, I had chosen the wrong word entirely.
Lesson here, even for an old writer hack like me: When in doubt, look it up.