My grade 8 English teacher, Mrs. Ball, would be so proud of me. I was one of those kids who, when asked to write something, would put my hand up to find out how long or how many words it had to be. If it had to be two pages long, I still remember writing in the largest characters I could. Today, I’d just choose a bigger font. I hated writing. Even more than writing, I hated proofreading.
I actually didn’t have to do too much proofreading. Not that I was perfect but I always figured that if I did something right the first time, why would I inflict a second round of writing on myself? At least that’s my thought and I’m sticking to it.
Fast forward to today and I’m a regular writer. There’s something powerful and satisfying about sitting down and sharing thoughts about a singular topic. I try to do it daily. X number of years later I can finally admit that Mrs. Ball was right.
I’m under no illusion that I’ll win any kind of award for my writing. In fact, when I go back and read things I’ve written, they’re more like a one way conversation from me to whoever cares enough to read than anything that’s academic and well researched. When I do that type of writing, I do have to stop and think about Turabian and Chicago and style and … blech.
Stephen Hurley and I had a chat about finding mistakes in blog posts. The best part of our Wednesday morning is the 10-15 minute chat we have before we go live. Let’s be honest about this; it happens all the time. Bloggers and writers such as myself don’t do it for marks like we did back in Grade 8; we do it because we want to put our thoughts down formally. The fact that anyone else would care to read them is a bonus. I know that there are some regulars who drop by the blog to see what sort of nonsense I’ve created and I appreciate that.
The point of this is not to confess that I don’t proofread. In fact, it’s anything but that. I do look it over once or twice before I post or schedule the post. It always seems like a conversation and I’m OK with that. I’m transparent that way.
So, what happens when I make a mistake?
Given that the majority of people that read this are teachers, it’s surprising that I don’t get ripped daily. Or, maybe less frequently – I hope that I do get some of the posts done correctly. I know that I can count on Sheila Stewart to drop me a note if there’s something that she catches. I actually feel good about that. It’s nice that someone reads closely enough to spot errors and she’s always nice about it so that I don’t feel too badly. I’ll go in and fix things and promise myself to do better next time. The problem is that most people who read this blog do so by subscribing to it or reading via RSS. It takes a bit of effort and a change of program to do the deed.
I don’t know if this is our reality but I suspect that we give people more of a writing pass when they’re bloggers. It’s not like Lois Lane and Clark Kent writing for a daily newspaper that people actually pay for and everything has to be proofread and perfect.
I like the fact that there are wiggly red lines that let me know that my fingers have exceeded my capacity to spell correctly. I can honestly say that my first blush at proofreading is looking for wiggly lines. The second step is to see if the flow actually looks like a conversation rather than a research report. When that happens, it’s a good day at the keyboard for me.
I’d be interested in your thoughts. How do you respond when someone points out a spelling or grammar error? Do you freak or do you just go in and silently make the correction. Or, perhaps you just say I’ve got to be me and errors are in my DNA. I can always blame it on auto-correct!