Earlier this year, I recorded the audiobook version of Tech Monopolies: A short rant about addictive. In re-reading it I spotted at least 10 spelling mistakes and found a few words missing. I’m told the letter that came with each copy had a few typos. My wife found the grammatical errors quite frustrating in the book. It was recently highlighted to me that a video of mine has a typo. The first prototype of my online course has mistakes too.
I don’t really notice them. An online dyslexia exam had me as dyslexic, but I’m not sure I trust those tests. I was never formerly diagnosed as dyslexic. I did find reading incredibly tiring as a teenager. I only started reading books in my early 20s really. Before that I’d figured out ways to blag exams and pretend I’d read them (thank you Blockbusters). Because I write a bit, many people struggle to believe me when I say I don’t notice mistakes. My pal Jim who edits my books and is incredibly gifted with language once commented that he thought maybe something was up. My 8 year old son often corrects me when I read bed time stories because I miss words or replace them with similar ones. Like my mind is filling in gaps. The Open Dyslexic font on the Kindle in a big font seems to really speed up my reading. I struggle with reading a Sans Serif font.
It doesn’t bother me to be honest. I’m pretty happy with my reading and writing. Haha. My son Ivor is self-educated and he loves reading. As a little boy his writing includes spelling mistakes. I almost never tell him though, certainly not without him agreeing to me telling him. Over time he notices for himself because he reads and sees the word spelt ‘correctly’ elsewhere. What’s funny though, is the degree to which my mistakes annoy others. Very rarely do my mistakes change the meaning of a sentence, or leave people really misunderstanding. The one bit of praise my writing always gets is that it’s accessible, that I am quite good at making complex things really easy to understand. That shows that the mistakes don’t really matter. And yet they do. They really annoy people! they really really really annoy some people! Haha.
It makes me want to write a whole book with loads of intentional mistakes in there just to annoy people. What’s it about? We become very attached to things being a certain way. I like the volume on the TV to a multiple of 5. I’ll increase or decrease it so it lands on a 0 or a 5 but never anything else. Hehe. That’s just a bit stupid. I think our attachement to things being spelt correctly is, for the most part, a bit silly too. I mean grammar matters, don’t get me wrong. There’s a difference between “Let’s eat grandpa” and “Let’s eat, grandpa”. But sometimes I think we can - with grammar, like for many things - forget it’s original purpose. The purpose is to be understood. My mistakes aren’t often causing huge confusion, yet they do cause anger. We see this mistake in many other parts of life. We look at the thing and forget the reason. We measure something and forget the reason. This is why we obsess over exam results rather than growth. Or money instead of contentment. Or steps on your fitbit rather than simply ‘how you feel?’. Or hours spent meditating rather than ‘do I feel increasingly balanced?’.
Apparently my mistakes are sometimes ‘unprofessional’, which is funny. What’s being professional? I’m told I should spend much more time checking through my work. I think that’s probably true. But maybe I was prioritising something more important than my punctuation (which is awful! I put that down to not having written anything in English until I was 17 years old). I think prioritisation is quite professional. More so than spelling. It’s a matter of perspective.
The writing is the means not the end. I’d like it to be good. I’ll try to get better. But the end, is to be understood with or without spelling mistakes, those are not even secondary. I think there are probably people who can’t get through pages of my book without their mind stopping on every thing that’s a bit ‘wrong’. Hehe. I think that’s quite funny. We can get fixated on something being a bit off, forgetting to focus on what it’s about. On my online course and in my talks I often run an exercise where participants self-reflect on how ‘Ice’ or ‘Liquid’ they are. Spelling anxiety probably is at the extreme Ice end of the spectrum. Hehe.
So I’m afraid this newsletter and future newsletters and even books will contain many more spelling mistakes. I’ll try my best to be understood though. What mistakes do you make that you feel are actually pretty unimportant?
[Signs off expecting to receive many emails pointing out spelling mistakes.]