A few years ago, Tom and I were really competitive about who was smarter. After the whole Holy Shit You Are Smarter Than Me Debacle, I worked hard to find a way to prove to myself that I still inched ahead of him in the department of brains because I used mine more than he did. I read books. I studied symbolism and metaphor. I had to prove to myself that I was the smart one.
I started challenging Tom in everything: backgammon, gin rummy, and brain teasers. Sometimes, I won. Sometimes, I lost. These games of logic and reason were not going to prove that I was any smarter than Tom. We began to read similar books and I would want to have a book chat to prove to myself that he did not read for the detail I did, but everytime I tried to bring up a certain aspect of the novel, he would wow me with how clearly he understood its relevance. I needed something more definitive. Wouldn’t you know? I found an IQ test on-line. I knew I could get him! I took it first and scored a 144. He’s not a genius. He’s not in Mensa, surely, he could not score higher than 144?
You guessed it. He did. He scored a 149. The bastard outscored me by five points. He was a good sport about it, saying it was just an on-line test, and it probably wasn’t even accurate, but it still made me steam to think his scores are always better than mine.
Well, it was a reality check, and I started to do a little self-assessment. As much as I am a well-read person, I do struggle in math and science, two areas that Tom excels in. In addition, I had to admit to myself that I lack expertise in certain areas. As a writer, I make some pretty big errors. I do believe I have the ability to craft a story, but to be frankly honest, I am awful at spelling and I sometimes use the wrong word, and more than once, my twelve-year-old daughter has found homonym errors. I have always struggled with homonyms, and if we are moving toward becoming a nation where everyone gets an IEP, I want mine to be for homonyms. Cheryl is only required to pick the correct homonym 80% of the time with 75% accuracy. Isn’t that lovely? Wouldn’t that be an awesome IEP? Then, I wouldn’t have to worry about making errors because of the full proof system of demanding less. (Umm, I think this post just suddenly started to attack our education system, which is not what I intended. I intended to admit that I make errors and that I am trying to improve myself.)
The reason I bring any of this up is that I actually want to give a shout out and a thank you to a friend who emails me when the error is too big to ignore. I think she feels that she is stepping on my toes or insulting me. On the contrary, she is making me study words more intently, and she is helping me grow. So Sue, thank you for pointing out my lousy spelling and incorrect word choice. I assume that many writers make errors and that is why they have editors. Thank you for being my editor, pro bono. It is less embarrassing to be corrected than to leave those egregious errors for the world to see.
(Oh, and thank you WordPress for having a spellcheck. You don’t even want to know how many red and green lines appear when I click the ABC button!)