Saturday, August 22, 2009
Spelling Confidence Deflators: June Casagrande, Spell Checker and Art Teachers
A few weeks ago I was inspired by June Casagrande's column, A Word Please. It appears in the Glendale News-Press, an affliate of the LA Times) weekly. I often clip her columns to read later or to follow up on her inspiration--later, of course.
This particular column I clipped was on spelling. You know, stuff like spelling bees and how brilliant kids can humiliate adults in certain arenas. On how Brits spell differently from Americans. That reminded me of how us Americans nurtured on British literature so many problems. I still can't get "grey" right.
But it also reminded me of what a great speller I am. Or thought I was. As a child I was pretty darn good at those spelling bees myself. Got straight As in English and on and on. Then, one day I spelled a word wrong--in an art class of all places! My teacher asked me to look at the word. Nothing but "Duhhh."
Then he asked some of my classmates to look at the word. I can't even tell you what the word was. Maybe something like "definitely" because it had something to do with an "i" and "a." None of my classmates had a clue either. So the teacher says--or rather rants, "See, see? That's why we have dictionaries!"
Suddenly my confidence went down the proverbial drain. In this case the drain of spelling awareness. He made me nervous. Now, even when I know I'm right, I fear I'm not. Do I remember the "before" when I spelled a word wrong, or the "after" when I had checked to see if I had it right. Were they the same when I checked? Different? So I have to go back to the dictionary again. Geesht. Such a waste of time and brain power.
One of those before and after words for me is "recommendation." Two "c's" and two "m's" or only one "c" and... Well, you get the idea. There are times that Word's spell checker is a Godsend. I have it on autopilot. It doesn't even tell me when I spell "recommendation" wrong. It just corrects it. Which is probably one of the reasons that I can't remember. Someone/thing is doing my work for me.
So today's editing tip? Straight from The Frugal Editor (www.budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor: Spell checkers can be very good aids. But we can't depend on them. Add to that, they may do their job too well.
june casagrande, a word please, glendale news-press, the frugal editor, carolyn howard-johnson, the frugal smart and tuned-in editor, spelling bees, double letters, spelling, dictionaries,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0978515870. Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com, where writers will find lists and other helps on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog.