You may have noticed that my writing is full of typos. I’ve noticed too. I’ve learned to let it go. I do not need to be great or even good at everything. No one does.
Sharing my writing publicly still feels like a huge accomplishment for me. One of the traumas that I still carry from my undergraduate institution (that I ultimately dropped out of ) is around writing. My first year of college was the first time that I had consistent enough access to a computer to learn how to type. I was an avid writer, always had been. I wrote everything by hand, all of my drafts. When I got the final draft finished I would begin to type. The process was slow and painful. Many of my first semester assignments were late just because I had not finished typing them by the time they were due. When I got the assignments back they would be scored by sea of red marks annotating all of the typographical errors. I had a good friend who was an excellent copy editor. She was also a very fast and accurate typist. When she realized what was happening she offered to type my papers for me.
My paper still came back covered in a stampede of red writing. With typo free paper the primary concern shifted to one of two things. Either my style of writing--it was not considered appropriate or elevated enough for academia. Or when the style was appropriate the content was at issue. It wasn’t that it wasn’t good enough. No, it was so good that I-- a poor, Black, queer, chronically ill person with a Nigerian name, from the US south--could not have possibly written it. The teachers accused me of plagiarism, of not properly citing source materials. They could not find any evidence of plagiarism other than the niggling feeling caused by their general white supremacy, anti-blackness, classim, xenophobia, and generally oppressive tendencies. They didn’t have to find evidence either. Their assignments were always so open to interpretation, so vaguely articulated that they could also simply say that I had not actually done the assignment. There were no systems in place to check their power as professors. Even if there had been those systems wouldn’t have been built to support someone like me. I was encouraged to get tested for a learning disability, to take psychiatric medications, to fix myself--because I was clearly the problem here--so that I could meet their standards. ( which were what exactly??)
I developed a complex around my writing. I still completed my assignments. I had even learned to type fast enough and mostly typo free. When the deadlines came I could not turn the papers in. I could not allow other people to see my writing. I could not subject myself to the same violence over and over again. I would not be diagnosed with a learning disability that I did not have. I would not take psychotropic drugs for an issue that was entirely environmental.
I allowed myself to be pushed to the edge of my sanity. Nothing--no amount of scholarship money; no piece of paper from any institution; no possible promise of a possibly better life--nothing is worth my sanity or sense of self. I chose to walk away from that edge. I chose to walk towards myself. I kept walking, started running and now I am becoming the person of my dreams.
As I share my writing more I recognize that typos, copy editing, are somethings that my writing needs to continue to grow. I choose to support my growth in this area by asking for help from someone who not only excels at copyediting but who actually enjoys it.
Are you that someone? Do you know someone who is? I’m inviting yall to support my joy by donating a few hours of your copy editing services to me each month. Slide into my DMs!
*For my birthday this year I’m asking you to celebrate with me by supporting my joy, my work and my communities. Each day I’ll be sharing one simple thing that you can do to support me in each of these areas.