Words I cannot spell without the spell checker:
Actually, I can spell them correctly NOW, because the spell checker has trained me. But every time I type them, I have to consciously remind myself: two p’s, s not t, put an i in there somewhere… and so on.
Or I just take random stabs at it until the little red line goes away.
Because some words I don’t even get close enough for the spell checker to take a stab at. Like…
I am not lying–one day I had to type “shadow” then pull up the thesaurus (ha! Got that one on the first try!) and look for ‘silhouette’ among the synonyms.
Do you even have to take spelling tests in school any more? (You wouldn’t know it from some of the posts on the Internet… Including mine sometimes.) Well, spelling tests were the bane of my existence. So when I told my guidance counsellor (there’s another word) that I wanted to write books, she said, quote, “Oh, your spelling is much too bad to be a writer. And your grades in English aren’t that great, either. You need to stick with the sciences.”
(Just as an aside–when I had English teachers I loved, I had fantastic grades. It’s always easier to read books you don’t want to read if you get to discuss them with a teacher who’s opinion you value.)
Anyway. She was the grown up, and I figured I could write books no matter what I had a degree in. College is really about learning to learn, getting a firm foundation for the knowledge your going to spend the rest of your life stacking on top of it. My advice to young want-to-be-writers is get a degree in something you will like doing, because it’s can be a long road to selling a book.
So THAT part wasn’t bad guidance. The REAL whammy was someone telling me I was unqualified for what I loved to do. Even though I had one of those new-fangled computer things (which my counsellor had apparently never heard of, because they didn’t have spell-check on stone tablets), the lesson–”You are only good enough to do this as a hobby.”–stuck.
Fast forward ten years, when I’d been writing as a “hobby” and talking about writing a book but not following through. And I looked at my writing, and I looked at the books that were on the shelves, and I said, “You idiot. The only difference between them and you is THEY have managed to finish a book. You’ll never know if you suck at this until you DO it.”
So I did it. And it worked out pretty well. I guess I don’t suck at it.
Of course, spell check and a good proofreader help.
Now, it could just as easily have turned out that I wasn’t a great writer, and that no one but my mother would see my genius. There are people who love to sing but sound like a dying cat when they do.
My point is not “Ignore everyone who tells you not to follow your dream.” It’s: “Don’t let anything stop you from trying.”
Fact: I’m a bad speller. So I learned to use spell check.
Fact: I needed to support myself while I learned to write more better. So I got a degree in something I was good at.
Fact: People asked me, “When are you going to get a real job?” So I stopped talking about writing and submitting a book and actually, you know, wrote and submitted one. I made it my real job by working at it, not necessarily by succeeding at it. (Though that helps shut people up.)
Then there’s this: If you sing like a dying cat, you may never be on American Idol (except maybe the audition show). But don’t let anything ever stop you from singing in the shower.
Question: What are YOU bad at? Do you love to do it anyway? Have you gotten better, or do you just do it for the love of doing it?