It's Albert Einstien's Birthday today so let's do something smart!
some stories I wrote and printed out back in the days of DOS and Windows
3.11 (when I would write with Notepad and WordPerfect),
I am rather amazed at my superior grammar - then. What happened to me?
Did I get lazy? Well, in a way, yes.
the Internet was what it is today, I wrote and sent letters (what
we now call SnailMail) to friends around the world. I wrote so
many every week that I started putting stories in there. My stories
gradually got so good that my friends wrote me back, insisting that
I try and get published. The first story I ever sent out, RATTLESNAKE
TIE, was wrote in Notepad and picked up by Easyrider Magazine on the
first try. They thought it was "too strong" for their readers
and published it in their sister magazine, Biker.
success, and now wanting to appear professional, I got Microsoft Word
and started writing like mad. The new program instantly flagged nearly
every sentence and every third or fourth word I wrote and I, believing
that the program was written by experts who knew of what they spoke,
wrote, and coded, corrected myself - even when it seemed preposterous.
experts. The program was created by millionaires and billionaires. They
knew more than me and I certainly didn't want to come across as an illiterate,
sell another story for the next 5 years.
a writer friend started pointing out my grammatical and spelling errors
and every time he did I would say to myself "I know that!"
Now I not
only write like a boob, I talk like one. To cure this, I've stopped
relying on Word to do anything other than write. Certainly never to
correct me as I relearn everything I used to know and discarded.
Word, for all of its bells and whistles, is really pretty useless and
only excels at its most basic function, putting what I type on the screen.
a slam on Microsoft? Yes, but they are not solely to blame. I got lazy.
I put my trust in others in the easiest way possible, instead of verifying
my sources by going to a simple source. A book at my feet or within
arm's length on the shelf. It was so easy to rely on Word, and since
that was the standard...
I was just
told over the weekend that Law firms still rely on Wordperfect, as difficult
as it can be (it's quite easy actually, unless you have difficulty learning anything and were weaned on a competing program),
because it is ACCURATE.
it accurate enough?
Questionable, as enough
television interviews with enough lawyers have convinced me that they
speak like dolts. Gone are the ancient days when a lawyer was also considered
a great orator.
If I want
to be a writer and sell and make my living doing this, I need to be
I buy actual books.
No, I mean
No, I mean
the kind of books that are printed.
CD read-me manuals except on paper.
when you print something out of your printer on paper - those kind of
we are on the same page: I buy books like Dictionaries, Thesaurus and,
to rebuild the original knowledge, a Merriam-Webster Vocabulary Builder.
I got lazy
thanks to the benighted illiteracy of Microsoft Word. Read this article
on cnn.com and the next time some editor snidely asks you to "USS" ("Use
the Spellchecker, Stupid") reply in your best smarmy tone
"I used my dictionary, and that IS how the word is spelled."
while we're at it: You think it's easy to write a spell checking
program for the English language? Check out ENGLISH
IS TOUGH STUFF.
This was first posted on MARCH
14 , 2003