As a writer, I sometimes get reader mail.
Most of it relates to typos. Some of it relates to disagreement or additional viewpoints. On occasion, I even get fan mail—how lovely.
As for typo-related mail, most of that is really nice. “Hey, Blake. Enjoyed your story on [insert popular story here]. Noticed a typo, however, and thought I’d share.”
Some of it gives me the benefit of the doubt. “Hi, Blake. Perhaps your spellcheck mistakenly changed ‘espoused’ to ‘expelled’?”
“No, kind reader,” I’ll reply. “My bad diction stuck again. Thanks for keeping me honest.”
Still, some of the mail I receive is unforgiving. As if my mistakes should disbar me from contributing to mainstream media. As if I should master English before using it to articulate a point, tell a story, answer a question, or inspire change.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been rightfully accused of bad diction. My mother did it. My siblings did it. My wife does it. I anticipate my children will do it.
It happens because I’m always exploring language. Testing it. Seeing how it sounds. I use everyday speech as an incubator, not a performance. When poor diction slips into my work, it’s always an honest mistake. Usually because I overlooked my choice of words.
Regardless, I didn’t let my inborn diction stop me from becoming a writer. Similarly, your shortcomings don’t have to keep you from achieving your calling or chasing a passion. As with all things in life, you’ll obviously be required to meet performance standards to participate in your desired field. You’ll have to exceed them to make a living.
The good news is, I’m not aware of many professions (if any) that have zero tolerance for mistakes. Even brain surgeons make them.
My point is this: Mistakes can be reduced to an acceptable level by anyone willing to try. Never let your mistakes keep from from starting, harnessing, and someday mastering a talent.
First published September 16, 2013