That’s right. I’m an English major and I have some confessions

  1. I’m a horrible speller, and I’m not that great with grammar. But I’m a horrible speller. 
  2. I’m not good at writing by hand
  3. I’m not a dictionary. (I remember the “general feel” of the word, the meaning but not the actual word! Very annoying!)
  4. I often skim when reading. I’m not even sure if read, I am skimmer.
  5. I don’t remember little details unless I find them greatly amusing or fascinating

Yet I have a B+ average (I occasionally get A-s too). It’s not great. It’s not bad. I think B+ is roughly 80% at my university in English (History is a bit more lenient in regards to percentages  but I still often get B+s). I’m currently finishing my last few classes. So I’m probably not that crappy in respects to performance….

So I have some explanations for these confessions.

I’m not a good speller. I really rely on spell check and even that is sometimes not always successful. It was embarrassing to type notes for my group but looking stupid spelling as they peered over my monitor. I’m a good writer. People say so. But I’ve never been a good speller. I was glad when spelling tests ended. I found it stressful to study for them and was generally very bored by them. They weren’t as bad as multiplication tables but I didn’t like spelling. I liked journaling and writing as a kid but not spelling. I was very happy when I never had a spelling test again!

I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense. I have an interesting thing with words – in that I can sort of know the word – the “general feeling” of the word whatever the means (I can’t explain it), I know what it means, I sort of know the first letter (maybe) but I have no idea how its spelled or how to say it. So how did I know it? I don’t know. I can’t tell you. I can tell you it’s annoying when you want to use the word but you don’t know the word enough to look it up (it usually results in reverse looking up in a thesaurus assuming  that you have figured out a synonymous word).

I’m also not so great with grammar. I was educated in grammar (finally!) as an undergraduate English major. But I hate proofreading  and I often won’t notice anything until after. Way after. Ugh! I know what grammar is, although my sense of grammar is more  “what makes sense/sounds decent” than rule-based. It’s just the little details that elude me until I catch it way too late. Being a crappy typist doesn’t help (it’s okay, not that fast but fast enough…. except very inaccurate!).

I’m also not very good at writing by hand or ever really ever enjoyed writing by hand. In fact, I began to really like writing once we were allowed to type our final drafts out! Since I don’t hand write that much anymore, my writing is messy and big. Well, it was always sort of big (relatively). I was always annoyed that most people seemed to have aesthetically better handwriting than I did.

I was always a good reader but I never remember learning phonetics to read. I just read. A lot of the time I don’t even know what the words sound like but somehow that doesn’t really matter all that much (although it feels stupid to discuss in speech). It was always easy to me. It was never uncomfortable like math, it was always just….there.

I read fairly fast. But not that fast, I’m not a speed reader but I don’t put my finger or cursor on the words, I just place my eyes and let them skim along (until I get distracted, which is, let’s face it  – all the time!). I’m a very good skimmer. I don’t really have the patience to actually read, read many books and 30-page academic articles  for essays. But I never stop and get muddled down by words….I read fast enough to form a complete idea/concept (non-fiction) or image (narrative). I do hear the the words, it’s not like I just see the pictures but it’s like voiceover in a film. I’m really big with imagery. I love, love imagery. I love the symbolism…everything. Because that is easy for me.

But I don’t understand readers that get tied up in the words. It’s not uncommon for me to skim a passage several times so I get a better idea of the idea or what is happening. And it’s faster than focusing on one word at a time. It’s natural for me. As a result, instead of reading once or twice carefully (which I sometimes do but that’s mostly limited to short poetry), I skim many, many times.

However there is a disadvantage. I suck at remember specific details that I don’t really care about.  If English Lit was based on this, I wouldn’t be majoring in English. What shape was the island? I don’t remember. So and so gave something to this character? What? I know it happened but I don’t remember the specifics! I don’t know why. It’s annoying because I know I read it and I know that I know the gist of it but I don’t remember those details. I’m good at remember  major themes though. The major themes are always the easiest for me. It should be the most complicated, not the details but for me, big, abstract ideas are so much better. I can remember specific scenes and examples (or at least, know that they were there and look them up). I can relate abstract ideologies to the text. I can relate the text to the real world.  But I don’t remember odd details! (The ones people use for quizzes and early level tests.) I don’t know how that’s supposed to be “easy”! I hate reading comprehension quizzes because it doesn’t really quiz your reading comprehension or that you read it. It quizzes you that you read it and remembered little details! Details that are usually not that important to the story.

Of course, particular details I do remember are always quite random. But I know I read it. I can go and find quotes to support my arguments . Basically, I read the book and the details eventually fill in…somehow, once I read the book (I can also go back).  Somehow. If I’m researching then I already know what I’m looking for and I skim until I find it (or not). I also only occasionally look up words, normally I just guess based on the context.

But hey, I’m in fourth year. So I must not suck too much a reading eh? I will admit I’m a skimmer though. It feels like I’m doing it wrong somehow. It feels like I’m cheating at reading. (I was realized when we had a English class on skimming!). But I also feel that I go pretty deep into the text too. I think about the symbolism, connotations to the outside world and so on. So what I don’t remember exactly what colour the character’s hat was in this chapter?

As I say, if it’s easy it’s hard. If it’s hard…then it’s probably easy.

So I’m a sucky mechanical writer, but I’m a decent writer. I’m a poorly, poorly disciplined reader or ummm…skimmer. I’m also an English major with approximately a B+ average.  Why does it seem like I’m always trying to gather things from chaos? Anyway. Maybe I suck, but I don’t suck too much. Or maybe my ways are too alien and paradoxical. I actually don’t know how I soak information…I just do.

I was supposed to be detail oriented but I don’t think I am – at least when it comes to reading (unless you’re talking about meaningful and/or fascinating details). It may be different for other things though. (I’m good at fixating on things to no end!). If you mean details as fixations for perfection and temporal order…I’m great at that!

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