Monday, June 10, 2013

On Being A Terrible Speller: English Major & Writer Woes

Okay, so, I *think* I am finally settled and I can begin focusing on my blog again. Being out of the country for a week and a half really does a number on your sense of surroundings and ability to really...do anything. LOL.

Today I wanted to talk about something that really...irks me: the fact that I am an English Major and a terrible speller.

Now, I'm not mad that I am a terrible speller per say. I'm more angry that it's assumed that because I am an English Major (and a writer), I am a great speller. Or great with grammar, or that I have automatically read and understood all classics.

I am not a good speller. It took me forever to remember how to spell necessary (nec-essary, like neck-essary is how I finally learned, by the way). Also, I'm really bad with grammar. Commas suck, and fragments and run-on sentences? We have a tough relationship. As for all those classics I'm supposed to have read--do people realize that there's more to English than just the classics? There's literature from all over the world (which is what I took, WORLD LIT).

Also, I am an ENGLISH WRITING major which means my track was more focused on academic writing rather than LIT (which involves culture studies at my college...which is odd and...well, that's a whole other conversation).

Anyways, the point I am trying to make is this: Just because I can't spell certain words, have some problems with run-on sentences, and haven't read every classic, doesn't mean I didn't earn my degree, or that I am stupid. It means that I don't know everything (and I don't claim to! That would be silly!). As an English Major, there's this pre-concived notion that we all think we're grammar police and we're all in love with The Great Gatsby.

Just FYI - I don't think I am the grammar police, although I do have my pet peeves (like everyone), and I happen to love The Great Gatsby.

There's also this silly notion that, in order to be a great writer, you have to be a good speller and excellent with grammar. Maybe you do have to have that to be a good writer, but you don't have to have those things to be a good storyteller.

If there is one thing I have learned, in the end, people just want a good story.

Take the book An Uphill Climb by David Sargent. Read it? It's a great book. Guess what? In the book, David talks about writing the book (confusing, huh?). His wife mentions that the spelling and grammar are terrible, but she KNEW it had potential and she knew it was a great story. That always resonated with me.

Don't get me wrong--we should all strive for as polished of a manuscript as possible....but it's not the end of the world if we have trouble with a few sentences or words.

Now, if only we could convince the rest of the world.


You're all writers and subject to the same scrutiny, how do you feel when others do this? What do you take comfort in?  


9 comments:

  1. That's cool that you studied world lit -- I bet that makes your writing really unique. Did you study a lot of folk stories?

    I do think spelling and grammar are things you need to work on alongside the other aspects of writing, like smiting adverbs and writing realistic dialog (even though spelling and grammar a bit more difficult).

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    1. Not folk, really. I studied many stories about colonialism, and magical realism which I really, really enjoyed!

      - I do agree! I think we should always look for ways to improve!

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  2. What you say is true, but such a writer needs to hire a good proofreader before turning in the manuscript.

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    1. Agreed, Mark! That's why it's nice to have CPs and Beta Readers! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. LOL. I have a slight case of dyslexia. I'm a GREAT speller--truly, but when I type, my fingers follow my erratic brainwaves, and letters/words often come out jumbled--occasionally even missing. My entire life I've been working to compensate for the fact, and I'm under the impression we're endowed with weaknesses to encourage our growth. Lovely post, Ashley, and I'm glad you're back to "normal."

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    1. I was never dyslexic, but I did have a habit of getting my 'b's' and 'd's' mixed up! Thanks for stopping by Crystal!

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  4. A good speller does not a good writer make. Spelling is secondary to having a good sense of storytelling. Seriously! You can sort the spelling out later!

    I have PhD in English Lit. Back in grad school we used to play a game where we would go around the table and everyone had to admit the most obvious "classic" piece of English Literature that he or she hadn't read. It was always hilarious, because you realized that everybody had missed something or other. Mine was Romeo and Juliet (and I was a Shakespeare major!). I've read it since, but there are still BIG gaps in my reading. You can't read it all!

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    1. Definitely not, Elizabeth! LOL. I have yet to read 1984. :/

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  5. I'd agree. You don't need to be a good speller or grammarian (is that a word?) to be a great writer. That's what editing is for after all.

    I consider myself to be a good speller and pretty decent at grammar, although in my casual writings such as e-mail and blogs, I don't always follow the rules. But even so, when I'm writing, I spell things wrong. I know the difference between you're and your, but sometimes my fingers don't type the right one. I know I'm not the only one either.

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