Tuesday, April 13, 2010
When You Can't Spell C-T-A, I mean, C-A-T
I have a dirty little secret.
I am a horrid speller. Is it neice or niece? Stilletto or stiletto?
Lots of people ask me how on earth I can be a writer and not be able to spell. More importantly, how can I be a former elementary school spelling teacher and not be able to spell? (So true. I hang my head in shame.) Isn't spelling ... I dunno, required?
No. One does not always get bitten by both the writing bug and the spelling bee. Especially if one is, well, me.
Don't get me wrong. I can spell most things. But my writer's vocabulary too often outstrips my speller's vocabulary. If I just wrote only the words that I knew how to spell ... aack. Sometimes I can't even get through a blog post without thinking, "That doesn't look right."
Spell check is great ... if it can guess what word it is that I'm murdering. But too many times, it can't.
There's the dictionary, of course. If you're like me, though, a former nerdy little kid who passed the time on rainy days by reading the dictionary, Webster's can offer more distractions than all those tempting Facebook games I dare not try. I start looking up one word, and suddenly I find this other juicy word that I've never heard of, and that makes me think of another word ... well, you get the picture. I'm fairly easy to amuse.
Last year, though, a writer friend, Lee Cheek, gifted me with the best little book. Bad spellers everywhere should have a copy.
It's The Word Book, published by Houghton-Mifflin, and it's based on The American Heritage Dictionary. It boasts that it has 40,000 words spelled and divided.
It has no definitions. Just words. I can't get side-tracked by meanings. There are fewer pages, so chances are, I find my word very quickly.
Unfortunately, I believe it is out of print, but it can still be had on-line.
I use my copy daily, much to the delight of my former spelling teachers!
(BTW, the cute little Miss-Speller came via Funny English, which has an amusing Ode To The Spelling Checker.)