I am still planning to make a book out of my blog posts and photographs. I joked to my husband, “I don’t know why I haven’t finished already. I mean the photos are already taken and the writing is all done.”

He replied, “The writing’s not done.”

“Yes, it is. I just need to decide what posts will include, in what order, and what photos to put in.” (Not exactly, I actually do have some new writing to do. But I digress.)

“Well, you need to edit it. You have at least one misspelled word in every post.”

Well, of course I am planning to proofread my writing. Believe it or not, I see the misspellings and the typos quite frequently, too. They are a lot easier to spot AFTER I’ve published a post. It’s not just because time has elapsed since the writing of the post, either. I can actually spot them better on the published post than in the WordPress writing editor. It’s something about the font size and the color contrast.

I am not a consistently good speller. If I am tired, it’s worse. If I am surrounded by family activities and chores, it’s worse. And these are the times, my friends, when I write my posts.

I am also not a professional writer. Actually, let me rephrase that. I am actually not a professional proofreader, copy editor, or editor. I am a well educated woman who blogs. That is all. I don’t have a writing degree. I have no staff or publishing house. Also, I don’t care enough to proofread my work before I post it. I learn a lot in the actual writing of each piece and then I let it go.

I can, however, turn it out when I need to do so. Part of my job is testing children with learning disorders, which involves reading and scoring their writing samples according to a standardized rubric. They are short samples and I can find the errors in writing mechanics, grammar, and syntax as well as credit students for using detail, examples, paragraphs, and transition words to organize and develop the themes of their essays.

Some of the “kids” I test are actually college students. Many of the students I test are very smart and work very hard. And you know what? My writing is about 5000 times better than most of them, even accounting for age.

Most people are not great writers, from a technical standpoint. However, most people have something to say. They may have not mastered the medium, but they have a message. This is one of my jobs as a child/adolescent psychologist; I need to use active listening to understand the message.

When children start school, they quickly learn that the “good” kids know answers and have good manners. They are good at school. This carries on in life, with some complications in adolescence, when goodness means “popular” and popularity is defined differently at different schools as well as by individual subcultures of students within a given school. It’s fair to say though that it is pretty much considered a negative for students to fail school.

Recently, I attended a meeting, during which a special education teacher, told a high school student with rather severe learning disabilities, “You are not a test score. You are not defined by grades.”

This student tries really hard and has received additional support for many years. And still, she is having an incredibly difficult time passing classes.  I knew that the intention of the teacher was very positive. But in high school, students ARE defined to a significant degree, by test scores and grades. It is asking a lot from a teen or any person, who is failing over and over at a major part of life, to separate their self-worth from their efficacy in life.

It also doesn’t help that as educated people, we can sometimes bully others based on the way they express themselves rather than simply disagreeing with their message. This is often done in political arguments. For example, a member of the Tea Party carries a sign at a rally that contains a spelling error. We point out the error and say, “What an idiot.”

I have made statements like this many times in my life. I have made fun of people with different viewpoints based on their communication errors, whether spoken or written. A few years ago, I made a concerted effort to stop doing this. It’s not that I NEVER do it, but it is much reduced.

Our country has major problems in the way that it is governed. We have a system that seems to pride itself on fighting all of the time and getting nothing done.  People do it in their day to day life, too. It’s as if we chip away at each other, makes lists of errors, treating the very tiniest like they are the most grievous possible. Because we disagree with someone. Often we disagree because we do not believe the person to be kind or just and somehow this gives us a free pass for being unkind and unfair in return. Hurt and fear often underlie these kind of angry responses. I know for myself, I sometimes use anger to justify why my unkind treatment is deserved. I am trying to do this less and less.

I don’t know how to solve these problems but I can choose to try my best to not be part of them.