Difficulty with Words and Spellings – All for Fun

Have you ever had to reach for the dictionary with word block and felt like kicking yourself when you found the result?

I had this with “could” last week; for the life of me I “cud” not remember how to spell it and looked it up and booked an appointment for an Alzheimer’s test.

It happens to all of us but the following are the ones I frequently come across:

DIARRHEA

Dash In A Real Rush, Hurry or Else Accident

CONSCIENCE

Remember it as Science with a Con

DESERT or DESSERT

The Sahara only has one S in it – Desserts have SugarS

ECZEMA

Even Clean ZEalots MAy get spots

There is no X in this word – Simon Cowell has no Zits!

HAEMORRHAGE

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Wikipedia: Fact or Opinion?

I’ve just concluded a writing assignment of a deeply technical nature. The assignment was in two parts, first of all dealing with the need for Solvency II in the context of life insurance companies and secondly, the factors that persuaded the Massachusetts legislature to implement a mandatory universal healthcare system, the first US State to do so.

By now, you are probably thinking “What?” or yawning. For the curious, click on the links above and they will take you to Wikipedia for a brief overview.

This assignment is not totally uncharted territory for me; I hold UK life insurance professional qualifications so grasping the general view and identifying the issues did not mean I was stumbling around in the dark.

My research took me first of all to Google – inputting search terms that related to the topics produced the usual, incredibly long list of results and in both cases, Wikipedia was featured on the top page of my queries.

Now this is one time when you really need to question the value of an online resource such as Wikipedia. Equally, you could be using some other voluntarily compiled reference work such as DMOZ, but my point is, you must question what you are being told by your source no matter who is providing it.
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The Interminable Wait After Pitching for a Project

Sunday morning, early awake but still in bed with the electric blanket warming the tootsies, birds twittering and some joker with a shotgun blasting away since 5am on the estate. Why some people think rabbits, pheasants and grouse deserve to be shot at defies any explanation, but I can think of at least one person who I dearly would like to take a pot shot at … whoever the bugger is blasting away right now!

Today is supposed to be a day of rest but I have a writing test to submit for a project, or rather a contract for country profiles for an insurance directory. I posted last week about going in for a meeting with the company in London. I’m happy to report that I’ve made it to the last two writers, though I’m the underdog as my competitor has more relevant experience than I do. At least the project principal is straight forward and completely open with me about the state of play.

After the writing test is submitted, which is really a combination of research and summarising rather than whether Shelley is going to get a run for his money, it just comes down to waiting… and waiting … and of course, more waiting.

This is the largest project I’ve bid on in my brief writing career and though it will not make me rich, it certainly will significantly boost my income to the tune of £30,000 every 18 months. As a writing friend of mine who is also on their panel said very succinctly, “I do this because I need the money!”, and I agree with him 100%.
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Just for Fun – Florida Cracker Etymology

I’m late posting, mea culpa, so here’s something light to think about.

Michael has already written about the “history” of words and the use of language. It’s important to always remember that every single word we speak, read and write has a history not only because the history of words is very interesting, but also to remind ourselves of how words can change their meaning depending on the social context and often implicit, common usage.

As an example, think of the word “gay” – to my grandparents, being gay meant being happy and the life of the party. Today it means being homosexual. A span of a couple of decades or so, or two or three generations and “WHAM!” – all meaning has changed.

I’m getting ready to head back to the United States, to my second adopted home of Florida (which is why I am late in posting) – as a Brit with a passion for history, I have always centered my spiritual leanings towards the US of A on the North Eastern seaboard and played in the “colonies” of Massachussetts, Vermont and Maine. Florida was a destination that has only attracted me because I first ended up in hospital after an accident in Central America over 20 years ago and thereafter, because of an unusual set of family circumstances.

Florida has a vivid colonial history. Forget Disney and the theme parks; it is the home of the oldest private university in the US (Stetson – he of the big hat) and the home of the very first settlements that actually survived (St Augustine) and has affected the use of English in own right. The hordes of tourists treating Florida as a surrogate Blackpool in the States simply miss out on what Florida really has to offer – so be it.
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Just Get Started Already

Writing is so tough for some people. But, I’m going to rant for a minute. It cracks me up what I have to deal with sometimes.

Just Get Started Already

A guy is pacing his floor, throwing his football up and down, looking out the window, banging his head against the wall…

“The night was dark and salty…”

Salty, I don’t think that word works all that well. Not salty. The air can be salty I guess, but the night wasn’t salty.

“The night was dark and lonely…”

Well, I guess the character could have been lonely. But, night doesn’t get lonely.

Our guy paces the floor a bit more with his football. He puts it down and pours himself a short glass of his flavor. He takes a drink and paces the floor a bit more as he grapples over what word is going to follow, “The night was dark and…”
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Holly Lisle – Someone to Emulate

I’m frequently asked about setting up a web presence and whether the web is a good way to attract business, irrespective of whether you are touting your writing or selling widgets. My answer is “Yes!” you really do need a web presence if you intend to attract clients, work and raise the level of awareness of your product and most of all, yourself. I came across a web site of a writer, Holly Lisle, who I have never heard of before, but nevertheless I was extremely impressed by what she has set up.

You can see what I mean by visiting her site here – Holly Lisle Official Author Website

Now this is certainly something I am going to aspire to with my own site, Ghosts Lair, as yet still only an apparition in my developer’s office so it is aptly named for the moment. I am not suggesting that you all rush out and do the same, but I felt that Holly’s site has all the elements that Michael and I have both been applauding.

The site is first of all, very clean and well laid out with lots of interesting links and clearly Holly is an established writer with a lot of goodies on offer. The sections are laid out and very easy to navigate, with clearly labelled titles for readers, writers, a shop (we are in the business of selling our work after all), a diary/blog which she updates as she works on a piece and of course, the “About Me” section.

You can also see there on the first page, a literal plethora of download material for use as samples or indeed, just free stuff on offer. In effect, it is a brilliant, understated showcase of her talent, her work and herself.

Hat’s off to Holly.

Unusual for an American 🙂 Michael, my fellow contributor, is too bashful to shout about his own efforts so I’ll plug his site as well as I like the use of video and the dark feel created. At the same time it is still very commercial in getting his work across.

You can see Michael’s site for his novel, Danger to Society and other work here – Mr I Dan Dawg

A common theme you will find with many writers websites is the desire to talk about themselves; not a surprise as though we may spend our time locked away in dark attics, broom cupboards and away from the general population in writers solitude, we are in fact, quiet extroverts. Why bother writing if only to satisfy the desire to express yourself?

Michael is no different, though aside from book signing schedules he also is brave enough to cover his weight loss program with photo’s of himself. Fifteen pounds and still falling – way to go Michael!

Now, before we all rush out to get a website just like Holly or Michael’s, you should be aware of the cost and time that is involved. Nor do you necessarily need a website of your own when you can swing by the blogging sites and set up a a blog that can also double as your online showcase. You can find free blogging made easy, by signing up for Blogger or WordPress and be set up in an hour or so.

The key element to remember is no matter how large your budget, keep the site clean and simple. Website users are a notoriously impatient lot, so be very clear and spell out the sections you are going to offer. Place samples of your work prominently on your home page so they can be obtained easily without potential clients having to sift through the site to find something you have produced.

The Difference Between Editing and Proofreading

The writing process is technically made up of five different steps. Prewriting, writing, revising, editing and publishing is one version of those five different steps.

Prewriting, Writing, Proofreading, Editing and Submitting

That’s another variation. Of course, if you look through books and websites you’ll find quite a few other variations. But the bottom line is there is some confusion, the difference between Proofreading and Editing.

Why are there two different steps in the writing process that mean the same thing?

Well, they don’t really. A Supaproofreader will cover both steps. All you have to do is submit what you have written and we’ll take it the rest of the way to the Publish or Submit part.

But, proofreading and editing are different. They are actually two different sides of the same coin, but they have two different purposes. Let’s take a closer look.

Proofreading

Proofreading is actually the tougher of the two in my book. When you look your paper over after writing it, you should look for better ways of writing. You have awkward sentences that need some touching. You have words that don’t quite fit and you could make decisions about replacing them with more effective words.

You’re not just looking for errors in awkward sentences and weak words. You should look for places where you could be clearer. You should try to find places where you could make a stronger argument. Add sentences where explanations need to be. Proofreading is about tightening up your work and making your writing that much better.

Editing

Editing is where you look your work over for the actual grammar and spelling errors. That’s when you look through your document for all the “Red” squiggly lines – I can’t imagine anyone doing it with a typewriter anymore, but I do believe some old schoolers still exist. Just don’t consider every red squiggly line an error. “Supaproofreader” from a few paragraphs up and “schooler” in the last sentence technically are errors. But, I’m not changing them. I meant them just the way they are.

Don’t forget to look at grammar errors too. Subject and Verb agreement, Punctuation, Capitalization…those are the errors you catch when you are editing.

Yes, proofreading and editing can overlap. Let me put it this way, if I find a spelling error while I’m proofreading I’m not going to let it go. But, that’s the difference and now you know. Like the Justice League used to say all the time… “Knowing is half the battle.”

Writing Faster Than The Speed of Thought

If you ask me what my biggest writing fault is, I will answer “I over run with my sentences.”

You can disagree and think my writing is faulted for very different reasons, but certainly, my opinion is that I get lost and ramble on when I should just “.”

When I get into the flow and my fingers are dancing on the keyboard, the words just come and it is almost like speaking. The problem is that when we speak, we make so many errors with our English simply because the brain is processing thought far faster than it can process appropriate speech. When you get into that writers groove, the written word becomes imbued with the same errors that characterise spoken English.

A sure sign of “written thought” is the cliche. When I’m up against a deadline and my commissioning agent is yelling down the email pipe “Where are my 500 words on yak fur!”; cliches abound. The problem for me is that I find it hard to recognise when I’m using a cliche, so worn are the bad habits I have acquired with my English over the years. Frankly, it takes a second reading some time beyond any practical deadline for me to pick them up, or a second pair of eyes.
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Jump on the Bandwagon and Create Exposure For Yourself Fast

Promoting your services does not have to be so hard. You can very quickly gain a readership by taking a little time and effort and paying attention to current events in your chosen field.

Michael and I have both harped on about creating a portfolio of work, even if you have not been commissioned to produce it or sold it. The issue is, what should you write about that will immediately get you readers?

If you are using an email account such as Yahoo!, AOL or Hotmail, every time you sign in you get news features listed on your sign in screen. I signed in to my Yahoo! account and was confronted with pictures of Britney Spears on a stretcher surrounded by paramedics trying to help her find a hairgrip or a grip on reality. The singer is embroiled in a custody battle with her ex over the children and “something” happened over the weekend. As sure as Gordon Brown is scared of calling a General Election, if you wrote something about custody issues and cited Britney, you are going to get some attention over the next couple of days at least because people are going to be interested in it and not just sad Britney fans either.

Take another example; one of the heroes in the Glasgow Airport terrorist attack has collapsed with a brain aneurism which in part has been attributed to stress. At the same time, over 200 servicemen diverted to Birmingham International Airport on the way home for Christmas leave from Afghanistan, were forced to change from uniform to civilian dress before being allowed to enter the terminal from the aircraft. How about writing an article on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a piece on how we treat our “heroes” in the UK? Either way, you are guaranteed a readership on a very controverisal issue that holds widespread interest in the population at large.

For those of you who believe this smacks of opportunistic voyeurism for selfish interests; you’re absolutely correct!

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