Thursday, 18 June 2009

Writing backwards

One thing I have come to realise during the course of writing and editing this book is that I tend to jumble up sentences. I am forever coming across sentences where I have constructed them the wrong way around. Take this one for an example:

She triumphantly pointed up to a painted road sign on the wall opposite.

Now this reads perfectly ok to me, and is pretty much how I think and how I speak. But it really should be:

She triumphantly pointed up to a painted road sign on the opposite wall.

This is a mild example – there are worse! (And probably you will notice them in this blog long before me). But it does illustrate what I mean, and I find I have to pay double attention to everything I write in case it really should be the other way around.

I do this sort of thing with nearly every sentence – my natural inclination is to write things slightly in a jumble. I wonder if it is me being incredibly bad at typing… or thinking, perhaps. Or maybe it is a form of dyslexia – I have never been tested for it, and yet there are plenty of things I do that seem to be related – if writing I may write words backwards, or join the wrong words together. I may get the sentence order wrong, or the structure of the paragraph. I absolutely hate being under pressure to write and come up with something original – e.g. birthday and Christmas cards, cards that do the rounds in offices, wedding guest books. I can never come up with something witty, and I will invariably spell something wrong. Several times I have had to go and buy two or three cards for the same person’s birthday as I made a mistake with the first card and it looked too awful when scribbled out. I nearly always keep a drawer full of cards for this reason.

And spelling! I used to be the world’s worst speller – until I started writing every day. But if asked to spell a word out loud I always have to write it down first to see how it looks – possibly as I have learnt my spelling from reading lots of books – so the appearance of the word, not knowledge of how words are structured. This also means I know a great variety of words that I have no idea how to pronounce – which is probably my biggest confidence buster. Nothing worse when talking to a room full of people and the next word you want to say is ‘superfluous’ and yet you grind to a halt as you cannot pronounce it. So then you have to think quickly for the next word down the vocab food chain, and it ends up dumbing down to ‘extra’. This then doesn’t have the same power or connotation as originally wanted and the whole thread of conversation is lost. It is my worst thing in the world. But there is a way out – I am trying to listen more to talking books so I get an idea of pronunciation. It was either that or reading the dictionary to get an idea of where to stress letters – (soo-pur-floo-uhs) - and just hoping you will be near one when you need it.

I actually just did an online dyslexia test (as online tests are surely the beacon of accuracy) and my result was a ‘likely indication of dyslexia’. Apparently it would help if I speak to a specialist (them, handily) for a small fee to help me out further. Codswallop, I feel.

If I do have dyslexia I do think it must be a very mild version as I have always loved reading, my handwriting is generally neat (when really trying), I religiously write down messages, and I know my left from my right. Actually thinking about it I am a vigorous note-taker – is this because I think I won’t remember clearly? And I have to secretly waggle my hand to know which is left and right. And I am ambidextrous… AGH! What does it all mean?!


musicobsessive said...

Difficult one this because it is really down to style. For example I, personally, wouldn't be too concerned about about 'wall opposite' but would want to move the 2nd and 3rd words around ('pointed triumphantly') but then that's my style.

I think you can get away with a bit of rule breaking if that's really what it is (and I'm not even sure about that) in order to preserve your own 'voice'. I think this is what writing is all about. I like your blog because I can hear your 'voice' it is very distinct and to mangle it around for the sake of a few rules seems a bit petty, don't you think.

An editor may disagree with me but then he/she has a book to sell!

Jayne said...

I actually did stare at those two words (triumphantly pointed / pointed triumphantly) when I wrote this post, and wondered about them. That is partly why I put in the sentence 'And probably you will notice them in this blog long before me'! Heehee.

Yours is a very good point, and perhaps I am in danger of over analysing everything. I definitely don't want to lose my 'voice' as I think that is an author's selling point - that and a good idea of course. So I shall take that on board - thank you!

Rose said...

ooh once you start this you could get quite paranoid couldn't you! I think I jumble and write in stream of consciousness rather too much. Editing must take so much patience, I think that's why I have never got beyond short stories!

I often think I might have a very mild form of dyslexia but I think quite a few people must have. You train yourself to deal with it in certain ways I think. For example I still have to say b e a utiful to myself to spell beautiful and I am always jumbling numbers.

I think it's served me quite well in a way- I know how to teach myself which is a good thing I think.

Good luck with the editing and don't worry too much about the sentence orders.

Jayne said...

Hello Rose. Yes - editing brings on complete paranoia! I'll emerge the other end a small nervous wreck, but with impeccable 'comma sense'. (Oh dear... *grins*)

That is a very nice way of looking at it - knowing how to teach yourself, and being able to come up with solutions. Today I am ignoring all my worries and just getting on with it, and this feels surprisingly good!