In a recent conversation between me and an abstract painter, he claimed that spellcheck is the only reason he can spell with any degree of accuracy. That before spellcheck, he would say the word out loud and then look through the dictionary trying to find it by first letter. A word like psychology, for example, he would sound out and then search through all the S words. Not finding it, he would then look through all the C’s even though he was sure that it couldn’t begin with C. It was a slow and agonizing process, and all his papers came back with low grades and comments like “Your insights are terrific but you must learn to proofread.”
In many years of teaching creative writing to students whose grasp of spelling and grammar is sometimes tenuous –usually because they are immigrants or because their brains work differently from mine, and less often because they are lazy– I have had to train myself to see the heart and soul first, and the mechanics second. This has not been an easy task for me, someone to whom spelling is instinctive and usually perfect, and in the back of my mind I always hold close this poem below, my favorite of all the many written by the wild, beautiful and fierce multi-media artist Wang Ping.
She walks to a table
She walk to table
She is walking to a table
She walk to table now
What difference does it make
What difference it make
In Nature, no completeness
No sentence really complete thought
Language, like woman,
Look best when free, undressed.
For more information on Wang Ping, please click here.