Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mispaling Viroos

I had a few embarrassing lapses in spelling in a number of the last few posts I put up. Ok, who am I kidding . . . I've had errors in most every post I put up. Misspelling "empiricism" is a good way to lose your credibility to anyone who knows what you're talking about in the first place.

Fortunately, I have a loyal reader who catches these things and brings them to my attention. Thanks, honey. Unfortunately, I seem to have been unable to internalize the lesson, which is to use the damn spell-checker. So what's going on in my head, that I don't avail myself of such tools?

Part of it, ironically, is that I'm a spelling snob myself. My vocabulary is well-stocked with three-dollar words, and I know how to spell 99% of them, and it pains me to see obvious errors in others' work. The only problem is that my wife is better at it than I am. (A better speller, that is. I would also say that she's a bigger sn -- OW! OK, OK! Leggo of my arm! She's a better speller, and not at ALL hung up on it. She's wonderful, really! Sheesh.) So, there's some demon in my head that insists that the little button with ABC-check is for shlumps who don't know the difference between "it's" and "its".

I went through similar delusions of grammatical ability when I was a freshman in college. I had spent most of high school writing (herm-herm) very impressive essays, and I thought my freshman comp teacher would be equally amazed at the depth of my insight. Then a got back my first paper: "Two misspellings, two grammar errors, one attribution error: F." She wasn't blind to quality of my thought; she was just utterly unyielding on matters of form and style. She later told me, "I'm not here to teach you literary analysis. I'm here to teach you to write. So get used to it." I learned my lesson; I proofed my papers very carefully from then on.

Or, at least, I thought I had learned my lesson. Maybe I can blame it on Jasper Fforde's mispaling viroos. There's a lot of that going around, you know.


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