What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Holistic Language Hell January 13, 2014

Filed under: Tales of Humanity's Imperfections — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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I grew up in the country, and by country I mean surrounded by more cows than people. All the kids from my hamlet (yes, that is a thing) had to be bused in to the nearest city for school. True, we all went to the same tiny elementary school, but it was a part of the city school system. And the city generously sent us little country kids to the experimental school.

Our schools only had half-walls, so you could always hear and see the classes around you. This probably contributes to why I can concentrate on work even when there are strange things going on around me. But they also taught holistic language, which I thoroughly believe is why I can’t spell.

Holistic language theory is meant to build confidence in reading. And I was a very advanced reader, but it also meant that if you spelled a word phonetically, it was considered correct even if it did not match the dictionary. I have spelling tests that I got 100% on where I did not spell a single word correctly. While I am grateful that I can read very well, not being able to spell makes being a writer really, really hard.

I mean, there is spell check, which saves my life most of the time, but having to Google a word because you can’t get close enough for spell check to recognize it is embarrassing. Especially when people like to look over your shoulder when you type just in case they can catch a glimpse of your new book. I love the enthusiasm, but please don’t look at my spelling. It also makes it really hard for me to create a magic language for my books. It’s hard to break the rules of how words are constructed when you don’t know how to spell.

Luckily for me and my book The Tethering (for more on that, you can go to my author blog at, my husband is really good at spelling and helped me create what I believe to be wonderful spells. But still, my husband’s enslavement to my writing ambitions could have been circumvented if my teachers had just taught me how to spell.


2 Responses to “Holistic Language Hell”

  1. If you are over 18, you are now a grownup – and may learn spelling as an adult. It can be done – I would recommend some SAT vocabulary study books.

    Method 2 is to read a LOT, but old, good stuff – then you pick up proper spelling by osmosis.

    Method 3 (too late for that) is to be homeschooled by me. I think it was easier for them to learn to spell than put up with my corrections.

    Method 4 is to become rich and famous and hire a secretary. Insist that the secretary be one of the good spellers who went to a school where they insisted on that sort of thing.

    Good luck!

    Oh, Method 5 is to ignore the whole thing.

  2. […] I can’t spell. I went to an elementary school that taught holistic language. For more information on why a spelling bee is my version of Hell, please click here. […]

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