I write for a living.
Sadly, I don’t write novels or short stories or witty essays for cash. Instead, my portfolio is crammed with research papers, briefing materials, regulatory analyses, and talking points. Seventy-five percent of my job involves some type of analytic writing.
I’m not complaining. I love writing. I do it for fun. I do it for stress relief. I do it when I’m bored. I scored higher on the verbal section of the SATs than I did on the math section. And for an Asian-American, that’s almost grounds for familial excommunication.
I have a deep and profound love for the craft: the way something gets created from nothing, the cacophonic spewing of ink bleeding through lined paper as thoughts take tangible shape, the rush of discovery as the blinking cursor on the screen almost magically gets replaced with letters that become words that become sentences. The notion that 26 letters (give or take, depending on your language of origin) contain limitless formative potential is mind-blowing.
The emergence of new social networking outlets – Twitter, in particular – has posed a particular challenge for a writer like me. As a purveyor of language, I’m caught between the traditional mores of writing and the limitless canvas technology affords. Do the normally accepted rules of grammar and spelling change when you only have 140 characters to play with? Does simplistic brevity – complete with fashionable abbrevs and hieroglyphic emoticons – now trump good old-fashioned diction? In a world of busy status updates and mobile devices whose keyboards are as intuitive as a brick wall, can you get away with misspellings or ending a sentence with a preposition?
Case in point: I misspelled a word in one of my status updates yesterday. I had a five-minute conversation in my head about whether to issue a replacement tweet to demonstrate that I did, in fact, know how to spell and that my 6th-grade Spelling Bee gold medal wasn’t for naught.
In a meta moment, I decided to tweet my ignorance on proper tweetiquette:
“Archie knows he misspelled ‘inadvertently’ in his last update, but correcting it seems more trouble. What’s the spelling etiquette on tweets?”
A few of the responses I received:
“You just don’t do it and you move on. If people can’t understand your intent, that is their problem. The Social Interwebs move to fast for corrections.”
“Twatever you twant.”
I love writing, whatever the form, whatever the medium, whatever the purpose, and whether I have an audience or not. (I’m easily entertained.) So I’m willing to learn the new rules of language in the evolving technological landscape so I can continue to spread my brand of randomness to the unsuspecting populous.
If the open invitation to write twatever I twant doesn’t scare you, my mastery of ROFTLMALOLZCATS!!1! should. Consider this ample public notice.