Spelling Wars

It is no secret that I am a horrible speller.

Although I have tried through the years to hide or disguise it I have some of the most atrocious spelling and grammar you will ever come across for a college-educated individual.

I am, in fact, quite bitter about this one personal flaw. I have tried over and over to improve this one aspect, because I would love to be a perfect writer. If I had mad spelling and grammar skills this would elevate me to the next level. I think I can be creative on telling a tale, but when it comes to the mechanics I am flabby and weak. I decided that since I can’t become a great writer under the definition that I have to be a good speller then I will become a word artist! What is that you ask? Well, I made it up, that is what a word artist does: creates art with words and leave spelling and grammar to good editing.

Even with my funny new title I still felt I was missing something.

Throughout my school experience all my friends would try to help me out. It seemed that all my friends were so much more advanced than me in this subject that I was their pet project. When I would pass notes in class to friends they would often send those notes back with their replies and my original note properly spell checked. I would write that I thought so and so was fake in a cute, funny and creative way and they would make a note in the column “I don’t understand your sentence structure”…or “What is your thesis statement?”

This is when I finally realized it is an “us” vs “them” when it comes to writing mechanics. I have rarely come across someone who is indifferent on the subject. There are two personalities in the war: Perfectionist grammar police and Lazy dunce hickabillies. OK, so I just made up the word “hickabillies”, but I think it describes the personality stereotype the best. Making up words is just one of the many attributes of a word artist, such as myself.

Grammar Police are the people who I often find making such silly statements as this: “The author made so many spelling mistakes that I lost all respect for the writer” or “I often find that when I am reading a book or article I find one error in spelling and grammar and it ruins the entire experience for me.” I think it is safe to say the grammar police know who they are and they have already found five errors in my post and are simultaneously writing up an email to alert me to those errors, so as not to subject others to the pain of spoiling their reading experience.

Now on to us dunces and we pretty much know who we are. The first indication you are a hickabily dunce is you are usually asking how to spell very simple words or more often you don’t even know you have made the spelling error. Someone points out that you spelled something wrong or used the wrong form of “there” and you reply “I did?” and that is followed up by a long lesson from (usually) a Grammar Police member, on verb conjugations and linguistic theory. The hickabilly’s eyes glaze over and he/she fails to understand half of the words the Grammar Police use, because we hickabillies are simple folk and the Grammar Police harness a vocabulary that is vast and immeasurable.

Grammar Police are the first ones to the scene in the event of a writing mishap with a pencil in hand. It’s like watching flies swarm to an outhouse and the Grammar Police are the flies….Ok I realize that in that analogy that makes us hickabilys the poop, but bear with me. I like to find out who in the room is a Grammar Police by loudly making a statement like this one: “I think spelling and grammar rules are silly we should return to Old English before they had such silly restrictions” or “I think a few spelling errors in an article are OK as long as the article is well-written and creative in other ways.” Grammar Police in the room can’t help themselves. They will come swarming over to you and commence arguing.

The resulting conversation can only be described as similar to putting Democrats and Republicans in a room and not letting them leave until they agree on Health Care Reform.

In the war of spelling and grammar the English teacher is the atom bomb. They cause mass destruction in their wake, wielding the most feared weapon of all time: the red pen.

They cut and mark up papers and then return them with all the finesse and pride of a cat that just left a barely alive mouse at the doorstep. The majority of the Grammar Police army is housed in the English and Humanities Department. So if you are a hickabilly and want to have peace, avoid these common landmine areas.

Grammar Police seem sympathetic and understanding by the way they support the work of struggling authors. For example, in high school they make you read such torturous and boring stories as Old Man and the Sea and Walden Lake. Grammar Police are the first to jump forward to defend these authors and call their work “masterpieces” and “classics”, but a hickabilly misspells one word in an otherwise flawless essay and we are careless. I’ll tell you what is more careless: an old man goes out to sea, alone, and gets lost out there and rambles on about it for the length of a novel …that, my friends, is careless.

I found myself in college trying to hide the fact that I was a hickabilly and disguise myself as a member of the Grammar Police. My covert operation was an utter failure. I was a top student in most of my classes so the stretch wasn’t too far off. Sadly, hickabillies can’t hide for long. Let it be a lesson to all hickabillies that to Grammar Police our well-taken class notes look like random symbols on a page barely resembling the written language of an intelligent life form. I found this out when a fellow top student decided to try to reference my “notes.” I guess we could roughly call the scribbles my attempt at note taking. I often had teachers accuse me of cheating. My writings in class without the help of editing tools and Grammar Police friends to read over my work were far different than the polished papers and essays I would complete outside of class.

My first year of Graduate school I finally decided to read more to help improve my writing. Considering how much I read now, I really wonder what I used to do to fill up my time (probably staring at a wall drooling, like the dunce hickabily I am…I honestly cant remember). Reading more did help, but I still was not the perfect writer I longed to become.

I wish I had a quick fix for this problem. I have tried it all, including numerous classes that help teach grammar and try hard to memorize words I commonly misspell or misuse and not misspell or misuse them. It will take me years to improve enough in this subject to even be considered adequate, but oddly enough I keep going in for the punishment. My new goal is to try to write more and hope that will improve my writing.

Well this is the point of my article that I contact my Grammar Police husband (I know: I married the enemy), and he explains all my errors and uses big words I pretend to know the meaning to. Then I attempt a re-write and ponder the proper use of numerous vocabulary words he suggested then use a thesauruses to try to make myself sound smarter or laugh over how I can take a word out of sentence or add one in and make it sound like a line from a porno…ah the simple life of a hickabily word artist.

P.S. I spelled Hickabily different ways throughout this story for special dramatic grammatical effect. It was a joke for my Grammar Police friends to sweat over. My hickabilly friends probably didn’t notice.

One thought on “Spelling Wars

  1. Logan

    I have always been a hickabily I guess. Although its hard not to be grammar police when you are a TA for a science class. I think if you are a hickabily at heart though its hard to change. I will gladly continue to unknowingly use split infinitives and ending my sentences with prepositions so long as my writing is understood. Communication is the true goal, if rules become too limiting it eliminates creation of new contributions to the medium.
    Good writers are hard to find. Good editors are relatively easier to come by. A combination of both is usually rare. :)
    ~Logan

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