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Fixing flaws might require help

Posted by Meg Bear on October 27, 2009

99668067_49953b19e2Amy’s post suggested that we cannot actually ignore our flaws, if they are holding us back, we have to fix them.   I’m sure we all know that is hard.

I have recently decided that one of the reasons it’s hard, is that we keep trying to fix the problem the same way, decide it doesn’t work, and get into a frustration loop.

To illustrate my point, I have another great “Meg can be clueless sometimes” story.  What can I say?  As the heroine in my own novel, I’m a walking wealth of material.

One of the problems with blogging,  is that people might expect you to have decent grasp of grammar.  In my case, I have two fundamental issues with grammar, well, other than never actually “getting it”.

First, I am a bad speller.  This isn’t too big of a problem since there is spellcheck.  This catches the majority of the issues for me and the rest I blame on typos.

Second, I forget things like commas.  This I [mostly] solve by adding a lot of them randomly prior to publish,  hoping no one will notice those that are misplaced and/or missing. [Seriously, the edit process for me typically involves inserting a handful of commas and hoping for the best].

I am also on the lookout for rationalization opportunities, so god bless Penelope Trunk, who told me it’s not important.

Here is the problem, sometimes flaws  sneak out even when we try to mask them.   One of my grammar problems was kindly pointed out to me by my buddy Marcie.  The problem was, my seeming lack of comprehension of a difference between then and than.  Well more accurately, I didn’t seem to realize there were two different words, I only seemed to acknowledge the existence of then [since all coders know it could never be if/than (!)].    Marcie was even nice enough to give me dictionary links to both words, attempting to help me fix this problem.

OK, so now I knew of a problem and was intent to fix it, but I soon realized that the definitions didn’t help me.

In an attempt do something,  I first tried getting comfortable with the word than.  Since it had been under served in the past, I promoted it to prime time and used it instead.  Interestingly, more people noticed that mistake (I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has this problem) and now I was getting more frequent you keep using that word notes.

As I do, I started to ask for more people to help me figure this out (and fix it) and my buddy Louise, made an interesting observation that: Americans pronunciation of then and than are almost identical.

As an auditory learner, I have actually managed to merge the two words into one in my own head.  In fact, the majority of my spelling problems are not really phonics problems as I had always thought, they are pronunciation problems.

When I started hearing Louise’s voice saying then vs. than in my head (yes there are a LOT of voices in my head, don’t judge!) I was on my way to being fixed.  I now read the word correctly, and therefore have context understanding that I can use to my benefit.

The point of this post, is not to bore you with the inner workings of the voices in my head, but to suggest that sorting out the root of the problem, for you, can be very helpful in finding a fix that actually works.

Odds are, the only way you can get to that is getting observations from others, since you are probably not aware of what you are doing in the first place.  Just more evidence that you really do need a team you to help you succeed.

Oh, and now that I’m on to this pronounciation thing, I’m going to take another swing at affect vs. effect (which both sound like uh-fect in my world).  I’m going to give them a long “a” and a long “e” sound and see if I can’t suss out a way to ever use the word affect correctly.    Can’t hurt to try.

6 Responses to “Fixing flaws might require help”

  1. Hi Meg

    First up, I hate “too big of a problem”, surely it should be “too much of a problem”, or “too big a problem”. You wouldn’t say you could have “too big of a good thing” would you? Or “too big of a portion” in a restaurant. Pet hate of mine.

    Second up, affect/effect is a pet hate of mine too and I’m really pleased you picked up that the 2 mean different but related things (ok so there are more meanings English is like that). affect means “to influence”, effect means “to make”. You couldn’t ever have ’cause and affect’ (ok scratch that I’ve just googled and there are a bunch of illiterate media agencies that use the latter, I won’t be hiring them), only ever ’cause and effect’, you may however take an action, expanding your vocabulary say, that affects something else – your written communications.

  2. Amy Wilson said

    Hi Meg – I do find that emphasizing the ‘a’ and the ‘e’ in affect/effect really helps me – good luck!

  3. Meg Bear said

    @Niall thanks for giving me more reason to feel inadequate as a blogger. Pet hates do say a lot about us don’t they?

    @Amy now I just need to find writers (of books I’d read) who have the courage to use affect/effect. Much less popular then than it seems.

    • Hi Meg, please don’t youfeel inadequate because I have pet hates, and am a pedant, that would be a bit daft.

      • Meg Bear said

        You’ll be interested to know that my pet peeves are around replacing the toilet paper role when it’s done (I’m a pretty simple person – grin).

        What’s interesting about people who are good at grammar is that, like other strengths, it seems easy to underestimate what a gift it is, and then assume others are lazy vs. just missing a strength.

        And lastly, I should say we really do appreciate comments, the point of a blog is to have readers and when they care enough to comment that makes it seem “real” so do please keep it coming. If you are ever interested in an unpaid editor role (with high bragging rights of course) let me know, I am clearly out of my league.


  4. […] fabric – a sense of trust that others will help […]

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