Tuesday, September 02, 2014


I spent about an hour yesterday trying to find this article. I read it a few days ago and intended to write about it. Intending to write is my daily fail.
In the final days of my writing program we did a graduating class read. As I stood  reading my little offering I noticed an error. The piece I was reading had been read by my workshop: eight or ten people including a teacher, a friend in my program who was (is) a great editor, my thesis adviser, my goddaughter, not to mention myself during multiple rewrites. And yet there it was. A typo. I don't remember what it was. I do remember having trouble continuing because the urge to mark up the paper was overwhelming.
Not all of the edits I got in workshops were useful. It often seemed like my classmates were trying to convey literary sensibilities, usually giving me a feeling of futility. Generally speaking, I did not feel like they were getting what I was trying to do. I remember once writing a scene in which the dialogue included a repeated expletive that I ended with in rather than ing. One classmate circled all the ins and added the "missing" g. Seriously.
I have always taken comfort from a moment I saw on (maybe) 60 Minutes. Toni Morrison was looking at one of her books in a display case and she noticed a typo. She also talked about an ongoing argument she has with her editor regarding the Oxford comma.
It's nice to know there is brain science to explain typos. Comforting. It's frustrating though. Because, as it says in the article, other people catch them. When I was writing in school I put way more energy into editing than I do when I'm writing a blog. But I do make an effort even in a blog post. I usually walk away from a post for awhile. I read it out loud, which I usually find helpful. I've tried reading backwards and it does work but it's annoying. Blogging is fast writing, for me. I'm OK with some raggedy-ness. But I reread something after I publish and see something really stupid, often after I know it's been read by others and it just drives me crazy.
I know when to use it's and when to use its but I mess it up now and again when I'm writing fast. I regularly misspell their. I can spell it correctly out loud if you ask me but almost every time I type it I reverse the i and the e. I use made up words like dunno. I over use the word and on purpose although I do edit it out sometimes. I use ellipsis in ways I am told are incorrect but I don't care. And there are things I really just don't know.
I always got As in English but I went to a hippie high school for the last two years and I doubt I was corrected much. If I'd gone to college right out of high school I might have been learned more, or had correctness ground into me.  I went to college in my forties at which point I'd forgotten what I may have learned. And I went to a hippie college where teachers liked to talk about how the students didn't write well but no one seemed to want to teach a basics class. Within my reach there is a copy of Strunck and White and The Chicago Manuel of Style. They're pretty.
And then there's the problem of my ageing brain and the great fuzz in which I live. And my horrible typing.
Really some of my typos really are physical typos and some of them are just my brain glitching. I notice mistakes in other people's writing occasionally. I usually shrug it off but sometimes I feel judgy.
I just finished The Snow Queen. It is a lovely book with wonderful writing. And he used the word rampancy multiple times. It's a word that I may have read before but was compelled to look up every time I came across it and still am not sure I could use it correctly. I understood it in the context of each use but it's a wonderfully specific word. I felt like it popped up at least one time too often. Or maybe it just stuck out to me because I didn't feel like I had a grasp on it. Inscrutable is another word I look up every time I read it and still feel like I could not use it well.
Honestly,  I've given up. I will make mistakes. when I write. Some of them will be intentional. I just did a reread on this post and found two mistakes one of which was glaring and would have pissed me off if I'd clicked publish before I caught it.

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