Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blog posts past: My writing - a health warning (aka why I can't spell)

THERE are a few things that you’re probably going to notice about my blogging style over the coming weeks, so to save you the trouble of spotting them for yourselves, I thought I’d make them clear from the start.

The first is that I have a surprisingly limited vocabulary. This was highlighted the other day when my son George was looking in a children’s cookery book, and said to me: “Look at this bicycle made from vegetables Mum, it’s ingenious”. Now, I do know what “ingenious” means, but I don’t think it’s a word I’ve ever used in everyday conversation. I’m more likely to say: “Ooh, that’s a bit clever”.

He was right, though. The verdured velocipede (don’t panic, I’ve just looked it up in Roget’s Thesaurus) was indeed extremely impressive. Not that poor George will ever get to see what it looks like in real life. In addition to using more long words than I do, he has been hampered with a mother who can’t cook. And the recipe involved courgettes, which I can’t stand.

The second thing you will soon realise is that I have no strong opinions about anything. Ever. Politics, popular culture, sport - if there’s a fence to sit on, you’ll find me happily perched on top of it. I am the ultimate neutral zone. I’d be rubbish on that Room 101, because there’s nothing that I truly hate. There’s very little that I feel passionate about either way.

Ambivalence (I’ve just checked the dictionary) isn’t the right word, because that implies that I’m torn by conflicting ideas on issues, but I’m not. I’m just... vague. I suspect that my head is too full of perfume and kittens for facts to spend enough meaningful time in there to allow personal judgements to form. Anyone who has seen me wandering aimlessly around Newbury town centre attempting to make purchases will have seen this in action. I’m not a shoplifter, honest. I just take a really long time to make up my mind.

The last point I really have to make - and this is a bit of a major confession - is that I  am a really bad speller. It’s terrible, I know, but the day they introduced PCs with spellcheckers - American or otherwise - into the NWN  newsroom, I felt that my career was on the up. I really don’t think it’s that unusual among journos. A lot of creative writer types are left handed like me, and I’m sure there’s a connection.

Plus there's the fact that I cheated in spelling tests throughout my entire schooling. A very old mate of mine is now a primary school teacher herself, and she holds me up as an example to her class of why it’s a really bad idea to copy off friends during tests. I suspect she doesn’t conclude: “... and then she became a journalist”, though.

Anyway, armed with an extremely good grasp of punctuation and grammar (I feel I have to point out that I’m good at something) I have now thrown off the shackles of journalism, and am able to venture into the wide world of writing for fun, safe in the knowledge that the wonderful Newburytoday web team will rid my copy of the worst excesses of bad spelling before publication. Who knows - I may even come up with some opinions along the way.

  • First published on in 2007

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