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Revising, Revisiting

As I'm revising, I'm finding some rather interesting words substituted for what I intended.  "Risked hopping" instead of "risked hoping" makes a serious scene into unexpected comedy.  So does "trust me" written as "tryst me," or "public hall" written as "pubic hall."  Thank goodness I don't have a trysting character who risked hopping into a pubic hall.

It got me thinking about my early writing days--when I had no idea how many basic skills I was missing, then when I realized I sucked--and what in all hell made me think I could become a writer.  I didn't have a great education, I didn't come from a writing family, and though my parents enjoyed books, neither of them were readers in the way you or I would define the term.

Then there was the very simple fact I couldn't spell.  In the days before spellcheckers, this was a much bigger problem than it is for most today.  When I was in third grade, I couldn't pass a spelling test.  I told my mother it didn't matter because, when I grew up, I'd have a secretary to spell for me.

Spellcheck in word processing programs was a huge help (though not as cool as my own secretary), but created its own problems.  Guards and warriors, when spelled incorrectly, were corrected to gourds and worriers.  You can imagine how that might change the tone and intent of a fight scene.

My problems went beyond spelling, though.  Forex, until my early twenties, I thought "intents and purposes" was "intensive purposes."  I realized my error around the same time I had the chance to be part of a real writing group.  I was so embarrassed after that first meeting, I drove home sobbing and screaming "I SUCK!!!"  

What had me so upset?  Well, I had to ask someone to explain "gerund phrase" to me.  I didn't have a clue what it was.  Then someone else explained "abscond" meant "to run away in secret," so unless I intended the queen to hitch the throne onto her back and scamper to the border, I probably meant "abdicate."  Mind you, I'd already written three sorry excuses for novels by then, each one filled with similar gems.

So yes, I sucked.  And I thought I knew everything, too.  I was one of those wanna-be writers who, if the internet were then what it is now, would have likely folded under the mockery and stashed my writing away forever.  I was the writer others could ridicule.  I was one of those whose stories and letters could have been dissected in the "Let's all laugh at the idiot who thinks she's a writer" discussions.  I wouldn't be surprised to find my earliest efforts in some editor's "worst submissions ever" file.  I cringe when I hear editors share those.  I keep waiting for my name to come up.

I still don't know why I kept at it, despite all that.  There were very few reasons I should, other than the fact I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it enough to apply myself to learn spelling and grammar, still enjoy it enough to risk making spelling and grammar mistakes in a post about how much my spelling and grammar have improved.  (Go ahead, point them out!)  I enjoy it more than almost anything else.

But I still remember when I was an idiot.  More of an idiot than I am now.  I remember when I didn't ask questions because I didn't know I had questions.  I remember thinking the answers were so ridiculous, they must be wrong.  Most of all, I remember I wouldn't have passed from the idiot stage without the patience of others.

So thank you, patient people, for battling through the gourds and worriers who risked hopping into the pubic hall.  Perhaps this will be the year it all pays off.  Tryst me.  I really appreciate it.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 22nd, 2012 03:13 pm (UTC)
People have to begin somewhere! And intent to learn earns major points from me.
Jan. 23rd, 2012 06:24 am (UTC)
Willingness can indeed make a huge difference!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Blair MacGregor

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