Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Flawed Writer Stands Strong


Growing up watching my mother apply her make up, I was bound to pick up some of her habits, like rubbing Cover Girl concealer on the dark circles under my eyes.  We don’t want to leave the house, exposing our imperfections.  Always present a flawless image.  Yes, mom.  

Well, a while back drinking some beers with friends my flawless image cracked.  One of them asked me to define a word.  My response, “I don’t know.”  Disbelief stared back at me.  “You’re an English major.  Shouldn’t you know that?”  I wanted to slap him.  What am I a dictionary? 

Apparently, someone found humor in my vulnerability and put this scene on repeat.  The judgment crushed me.  I wanted to avoid that feeling at all costs.  My solution?  Give everyone the impression that I was stupid.  You can’t fall far when you aren’t that high up, can you? 

How did that turn out, you ask? 

My self-esteem meter dropped to zero.  I actually started to believe I was stupid.  What a mess. 

I want to be proud of myself.  Proud of everything I am.  I’m tired of hiding all my imperfections.  People can sniff ‘em out anyway.  I need to stand up straight and own my shortcomings.

Yes, I’m a writer (not a shortcoming). 

No, I’m not perfect (not a shortcoming either). 

I am a terrible speller.  That’s right.  Some days I can’t spell myself out of a paper bag with a ladder.  I turned to my students when I was unsure if I spelled a word correctly on the board.  They quickly reviewed it and gave me a consensus, never noticing my embarrassment.  They probably just thought I was testing them.  Now, I rely on my spell checker. 

Next?  Vocabulary.  I’m a voracious reader.  Unfortunately, some novels prove challenging.  I keep a dictionary next to me for the times when the context clues fail me.  Then, scribble the definition on the page.  Hopefully, it remains stored in my amazing brain.  Let’s not hold our breath on this one though.  I also use Twitter to help me remember words I’ve had to look up by tweeting a word a day with the definition.  I found I’m able to remember and use them more often.          

Another lifesaver: the thesaurus.  My fancy words repertoire may be small, but it doesn’t mean I can’t find one to add brilliance to my prose.

Don’t even get me started on my punctuation and grammar issues.  My finger of blame is pointed directly at the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  FYI: you suck.  My junior and senior honors class teachers in high school both took a quick break to re-teach the entire class what we already should’ve known.  Obviously it didn’t stick.  So, now I have at least 20 books on grammar and punctuation to fill in the gaps. 

Although a bit hesitant, it feels good to get that off my shoulders.  An English major and writer with a few English related flaws.  Hey, I can still read, I’m far from stupid and my imagination constantly keeps me writing.  It just might take me a bit longer than others.  My life looks pretty good from here.  To be honest with you, if everyone admitted his or her imperfections, we might just get along better and put an end to the senseless judgment and feelings of inferiority.   


So, what shortcomings do you try to keep hidden? 

    

 


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...