Having read what I wrote yesterday, I've made the corrections to spelling, spacing and grammar! Since I'm in the middle of marking I guess yesterday's effort before revision was a narrow squeak B1 - now at least it is securely that!!
It isn't that anything I wrote yesterday was unclear because of the typos - but literary carelessness easily erodes the credibility of the writer, as at a subliminal or conscious level, the reader notes the glitches in the syntax and suspects glitches in the content. But more than that - it is surely important to write with grace and accuracy, with precision and freedom, within the rules of language and grammar yet with creative and imaginative flair. So that factual statements are not undermined by inaccurate spelling; beautiful thought is not deconstructed by being expressed in carelessly shaped language; and persuasive encouragement is not contradicted by red pen marks all over the exhortation.
Of course the spell-check helps, and the wavy green lines - but stick to them all the time and language becomes standardised, those tricks of language and structure, the bending of the rules that identify originality, are flattened out into a prosaic properness lacking the very things that make writing interesting, memorable and worth the time to read and enjoy.
Amongst those whose lives depend on taking care with words are poets. Elizabeth Jennings has a special place in my personal canon. Her care with words, and her care for human experience, her inward surrender to the power of words and to the wonder of language as the limited expression of what we sense is inexpressible but essential to say, make her a poet of immense sensitivity and insight.
Hours and Words
There is a sense of sunlight where
Warm messages and eager words
Are sent across the turning air,
Matins, little Hours and Lauds,
When people talk and hope to teach
A happiness that they have found.
Here prayer finds a soil that is rich
And sets a singing underground.
Let there be silence that is full
Of blossoming hints. When it is dark
Men's minds can link and their words fill
A saving boat that is God's ark.
O language is a precious thing
And ministers deep needs. It will
Soothe the mind and softly sing
And echo forth when we are still.
(Elizabeth Jennings, New Collected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 2002), 324-5
"O language is a precious thing......"
And therefore our prayers are to be crafted, shaped and formed out of the language of the soul so that the language of our prayers is not insultingly banal, lazily informal, or repeatedly recycled cliche.
And therefore our writing is to be thoughtful and careful, not pedantic nor neurotic in a colourless rectitude, but open and freedom loving, expressing in words the beauty and ordinariness of what is so about our lives.
And therefore our emails may have to take a little more time if our language and meaning are to be clear, and the expression of ourselves as writers is to display courtesy, respect and care for our words, because they convey courtesy and respect and care to the recipient.
"Warm messages and eager words..." - that would be a telling criterion for those emails and texts, those letters and prayers, those compositions in words, of our best thoughts and best feelings.