Yesterday, inadvertently, I managed to upset and confuse people with my written words. This is very sad to me and not least because I intend that my next career will be as a writer, so that ambition slipped back a notch or two yesterday. How did this come about?
I commented on a high traffic website and used one word badly. My intention was love, I think everyone knows this about me. But the person who I was loving (pretty anonymously, or so I thought) in the comment read it with quite another pair of spectacles on. And when I read the piece again through those same spectacles I could see how this could be mis-interpreted. I’m not sure I made it better, though I tried to immediately.
Then I was imprecise in two emails later in the day which caused confusion and as I tried to put that right too, I realised I was just digging myself in deeper and accidentally making it worse; the damage had already been done with the one lazy use of a word. So I gave up and retreated from writing virtually at all, resorting to my notebook and pen where it seems I can do less damage. Interestingly, again, it hinged on my choice of one word which meant the rest of the well-intentioned communication was lost. And again, I was only trying to help.
Being misunderstood is one of the most painful experiences which happens in my life. And the bit which is always most painful to me is the erroneous interpretation of my words “how could they possibly think I meant THAT” goes round and round in my self-righteous little brain. And then I think “oh well that’s it then, another reason to retire from writing and from the world if everyone’s just going to be too sensitive or too stupid to see what I meant.”
But the fault lies with me. How you choose your words and how you use them is down to me, the writer. So the valuable lesson I learned yesterday is to not only read my copy out loud before I press Submit or Publish or Send, but to read it through the eyes of the recipient, even a recipient I don’t know, even with emails, especially with emails. The good news is that today, I get another, snowy day to get it right.
I’m just a soul whose intentions are good.