I have a deep, dark, ugly secret. I can’t spell. Okay, this might not seem that bad, and it wouldn’t be if I were a chef or an artist. But, I’m a writer and not being able to spell is a bit embarrassing. Moreover, my grasp of grammar is, at best, tenuous. Yes, I’ve learned the difference between “its” and “it’s” and I don’t confuse “weather” with “whether.” I even know when to use “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” Yet, I’m always confused about the difference between “then” and “than” and I still have to stop and think about “effect” and “affect.” And for some reason, I’m never sure how to spell “exercise,” adding an extra “s” or “c.”
I can misspell the same word over and over for years! Does “dessert” have one “s” or “two”? Does “breast” have an “a” in it and if so, why? I’ll even misspell the same word two different ways on the same page! And don’t get me started about knowing when to add a hyphen, and colons and semicolons will forever remain a mystery to me.
Why does this chasm exist in my brain? I’ve always been a voracious reader. I scored high on the vocabulary section of the SATs. I enjoy translating events and emotions into words. I just can’t spell them correctly! My theory is that you’re born with a brain that either knows how to spell or doesn’t know how to spell. What else would explain the fact that some people understand instinctively that “aisle” begins with an “a” and not an “i” and get “phosphorus” correct on the first try without inserting an “f.”
I don’t think you can surmise my ugly secret by looking at me, or even by looking at my writing. I spell check everything – and I mean everything – including emails and blog posts. But sometimes, it just slipps out !