I really don’t like crying. It makes me feel a little weak, more than weak in fact. But for someone who doesn’t like crying I do it a lot. I don’t plan to do it, it just happens, like most people’s careers. I’ve been trying to stop crying over small things like loosing my favourite pen, saying goodbye, hello, or crying when I see someone else cry, I really hate crying. I hate it more when I feel it coming, like a wave and I know there’s nothing I can do about it now, these tears are going to come, the only option is to leave the room if I don’t want whoever I am with to see me. I have been practicing controlling my tears on my own, when I feel them coming. I try different methods, laughing, breathing, walking around, squeezing something, but they still fall these stupid tears, even when I’m sleeping. When I feel them tears coming, when the back of my eyes start to burn, my ears get hot, a huge lump floats on my throat, I suddenly need oxygen, the only way to breathe is to let the tears fall, Then I wish I were stronger, tougher, that I was someone else who didn’t cry so easily and that makes me cry even more. It happens so unexpectedly, when I least expect to cry I do. And its annoying. Sometimes there’s no emotion attached to them, and I laugh, but not before I cry….
My mother likes telling me the long and short story of my tears. I used to cry a lot as a child, like most children do, I assume. But noo my crying was epic she would tell this story with a flourish…” each day I dropped you off at kindergarten (pre-school) you would cry and cry and cry like an animal about to die at the hands of a ruthless butcher. Your shrill pained screams left me heavy with worry throughout the rest of the day wondering what in the world they could be doing to you those teachers there at the pre-school. So one day the teacher noticing my growing concern and skepticism when they repeatedly assured me that it was all just for show, told me to wait and not leave after I dropped you in class. She just said, wait and stand by the window and watch her, make sure she doesn’t see you, then you will see what I’m talking about.” My mother says what she saw was amazing. I would cry and cry and cry and once I was sure she had disappeared I stopped as if I was not the animal about to get slaughtered a few seconds ago. I stopped crying , wiped my tears, without anyone consoling me , and got ready to take on my daily duties as the teacher’s assistant, helping my fellow kindergartener’s with whatever it is the pre-schoolers get up to, eating, wearing aprons ( mine was green – I remember) – a leader in my class, naturally! My mother’s jaw must have been on the floor, she could not believe the total transformation that had taken place in a blink of an eye. I was calm, pleasant and actually in my element being the class monitor. Then my mother was like ” Ha! this child! All this time I’m thinking they are treating her badly but meanwhile she’s fine and happy ehh? so then what’s with the crying? ” I don’t think she ever found out why I cried so much. But I think I have separation anxiety, it is very hard for me to let go, but when I do it is more often than not (8 times out of 10) – for keeps, permanent.
So I’m sitting here crying because I have a problem. A struggle.
I have a few struggles actually, the list is longer than my ABC’s , but the most hurtful of all my struggles is the fact that for the life of me, I can’t seem to spell or produce grammatically correct – clean copy – as they say in journalese. I have to spell check five or six times and even then I still find (or others find) bucket loads of errors, missing words, spaces and commas in the wrong places. If there are any here, just know I’m not trying to be ironic. Maybe I can not type. But I learnt how to type the old-fashioned way on my mother’s “brothers” typewriter which had an erase button – that would tap-tap-tap erase all the errors with a back-space key. Her type-writer had the modern keyboard similar to the ones we use now for desk tops. She used to say ” You , you guys have it easy, you know, when I was learning how to type we had to type without a single error or erasing and if I were typing so many errors like you do now I would fail, and I couldn’t afford to fail” I still failed I could type fast 40 words a minute, but I could not spell. I have done those typing exercises (sometimes I would try to mimic that guy at the end of the Investigative series ” Murder She Wrote” with the thick black framed glasses and flying papers) repeatedly over and over again at home after school and in afternoons spent clicking away in typing class with the older iron heavy machines – I can still hear that sound, a collective click, click, click you could hear a mile away – like synchronized rain drops falling on corrugated tin iron roofs. You had to remember each letter for each finger top, bottom, side etc. I did okay in high-school because I could practice at home ( even though I dreaded it) and did badly in college because maybe we have moved on to computers and it became difficult for me to remember where all the fingers should be while, clicking the mouse or I did badly because I already had a typing/ spelling phobia.
But today I am crying because this problem is getting to me. I didn’t mean to cry. It just happened. But I am sick and tired of reading my copy with errors. I practice to write the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, I have been writing everyday with pen and paper to see if I make errors, sometimes I send in my copy late not because it’s not done, but because I’m busy correcting a litany of errors, typos like writing send instead of sent, it’s not a spelling error per se but it’s still an error. I did not write all those years ago for any form of publication because of this. I’m not a writer, I can’t spell. I practice paying attention to each and every word I type, some days are better than others but it’s a problem for me. Even with modern technology.
Maybe that’s my talent, tearful-errors. So I need to find solutions to both problems, the tears – stop crying for long enough to see what I’m typing. Or don’t type at all. Or don’t cry. I still haven’t managed the latter.
It’s not like I can’t spell really. If you ask me how to spell something – verbally I can say – B e a u t i f u l = Beautiful. But who will admit they can’t spell? At 31, after 12 years in the “writing” profession. My mother taught me how to spell and I am not that bad really – I’m just not good at spelling with my fingers. I’ll tell you – ask me the next time you bump into me.
For example I used to take dance classes – moving into dance – back in 2008 or 9 I’m not sure. I love dancing guys, I am the Happiest Person ever when dancing at one with God the Creator et al. For a moment there’s peace in the world, no spelling errors or tearful mistakes, or being unworthy or not being good enough. There’s nothing wrong or right, good or bad, I just disappear into the music and none of my hang-ups have a say. I am fine, complete, content when I dance. But I cried then too because I could not get the steps right – 1-2 3- 44 -5-1 2 -11 2-3-2-5- 6 – 7-9-1 -2. I stopped once after some fish net twists and cried because eish ja ne, how is it possible that everyone gets the steps and I don’t, after weeks of going to dance classes? When I am not being choreographed I flow, but when I have to follow a sequence, choreography I fail, so I quit dance classes not immediately but eventually I found a reason not to continue with dancing classes because of this ( anyway they clashed with my 9-5) . You get where I’m going with this?
That’s why I’m writing to you dear reader, because I don’t want to quit writing, dancing or to quit again – at least let me see something through you know?
Perhaps my problem is the fact that I have been using my voice more on radio where spelling mistakes or typos are not met with the similar wrath copy editors in newsroom will unleash on you if they have to correct one, two many errors everyday ( I meant to do that). In radio no one else but the reader sees your copy and if you see that a word is spelt wrong you can correct it by saying it right, no? I also quit reading the news because I couldn’t find my voice somehow, somewhere deep inside me. When it comes it’s great, even I don’t recognise it, but to get it out requires , blood, sweat and you guessed it – tears.
Today at the work place my team couldn’t look at me, I cringed because I misspelled a word (s). I could face myself, tears stained my brown boots.
So now that I am moving into the world of the written word (at least online), I know it is imperative to get each letter right, or risk loosing readers, the context, tone etc of whatever it is I’m writing about. Or stop all together. I don’t want to quit. I have quit on myself too many times. So I’m asking for your help.
I am in my second week of the 12 Week Artists Way Challenge, and according to Julia Cameron spelling is the most common reason why people who are gifted story tellers never even put a single word down on paper because they can’t spell. I guess the idea of a page full of red is daunting. Can you imagine how many people have given up on their dreams because of red-ink? I hear you, some people (maybe even I) should just quit while they’re ahead – maybe the best thing to do would be to concede graciously. I also agree. After 12 years working as a journalist I should have fewer errors in my copy than I do now.
But in the spirit of the Artist Way 12 Week Challenge, I will push through this fear, continue to write despite the errors, do my best to do it right the first time and hopefully by the end of the three months I will have improved.
If I am feeling so traumatized and even crying about it ( though my tears leave room for speculation) I am sure there are many like me who fear too – to see their mistakes, indiscretions, lack-of attention right there staring back at them in black and white and red.
So in the spirit of letting go of my ego. I don’t mind the public shame of being a self-confessed writer/journalist who can’t spell.
Have you read 50 Shades of Grey? I hear it is the worst written best-seller. The Author is smiling to the bank, and people are reading it regardless. Porn. If I quit writing it’ll be because I have nothing of interest to say, and that is something that could happen even to the spelling bee champion of the world (…)
I have decided ( I’ve stopped crying now by the way) to rise above my weakness, spelling phobias real or imagined and do the best that I can, because not all great writers were perfect and I’m sure there are many who probably couldn’t spell. But that didn’t stop them from publishing books. So perhaps I may not publish a book ever. I might just decide to let my fingers do the talking through my feet but whether I am a ‘writer’ or not – I still have to write emails…. so it’s still a useful exercise.
Thank you for your time and feedback.
Is it really this serious…. seriously?