Since I am searching for part-time writing/editing work to do at home, I joined several job boards.
One board suggested I take tests to rate my skills. High test scores on an applicant’s Profile impress potential employers.
Sounds reasonable, I thought.
I opted to take the tests.
Tests for writing or editing included Spelling, Word Usage, Punctuation, Grammar, etc.
I began with the Spelling Test. Not only did I score 100%, but I completed the test faster than any other person did.
My confidence increased. I moved on to the Word Usage Test.
This test contained 40 sentences with blanks in them and several word choice options for each blank. The timer gave me 45 seconds to select a word, and that choice was final. I could not review my answers after I finished the test.
My hope of scoring 100% on this test dissolved by the time I completed five sentences. I approached panic by the time I completed ten.
In my defense, these were challenging word selections. No affect/effect, between/among, bring/take, can/may or other easy choices.
One test item required me to select the best word from these options: endless, everlasting, interminable, never-ending, timeless, eternal and unending.
In 45 seconds.
This was synonym nitpicking.
I scored in the 80-something percentile.
So now, beside my 100% rating in Spelling on my Profile, will appear an 80-something percentile rating in Word Usage.
Hoping to hone my writing skills, I bought ProWritingAid, an online editor and personal writing coach.
This program tests the quality of my writing based on these qualities: Style, Grammar, Readability, Overuse of Words, Clichés, Wordiness, Diction, Sentence Lengths and others.
Based upon its evaluation, ProWritingAid gives me an overall score and suggests specific improvements.
The first time I scanned this blog post with ProWritingAid, it assigned me a score of 68/100.
The writer of this post, it said, used too many words, lacked style, and didn’t vary her sentence lengths.
Admitting I am a not-as-good-as-I-thought-I-was writer stings.
Scoring high on a word usage test and meeting the standards of an electronic editor gain me nothing.
But my performance on them holds the power to make me either ecstatic or miserable.
Is it pride that causes me to aim for perfection?
Do I expect being a good writer to affirm my worth?
I sometimes ponder those unanswerable questions, but mostly I ponder issues like this one.
Should I write “I was sad, or I was melancholy?” Sad is too general, but melancholy is flowery.
“I was disappointed?” No, disappointed is weak.
“I was unhappy?” No, I was much more than unhappy.
“I was crushed?” No, I’m not discussing pretzels.
“I was inconsolable? No, too many letters.
Then my scrutiny leads me to have this conversation:
“Hey, Dan, listen to this. Which sounds better?
“I was sad.”
“I was melancholy.”
“I was disappointed.”
“I was unhappy.”
“I was crushed.”
“Or, I was inconsolable.”
Dan: “Don’t they all mean sad?”
Deb: “Yes, but which one sounds best?”
Dan: “Well, if you were sad, why don’t you just write ‘I was sad’?”
Deb: “No! Sad is the worst choice! Anyone can write I was sad.”
Before you assign me to a home for the ridiculously insane, name the meaningless, prideful longing that torments you because you can’t achieve it? Is it:
- Receiving “exceeds expectations” on your annual review?
- Aching to be thinner than your girlfriends?
- Trying to earn more money than your siblings?
- Striving to outdo other teachers, dancers, or piecrust bakers so you can be best?
- Having your house guest-ready all the time?
Does failing to meet these goals make you feel sad (melancholy, disappointed, unhappy, crushed, inconsolable)?
My long-term goal for years has been to write and to have an outlet for my writing.
I have achieved those goals.
“Why,” I ask, “am I not content?”
Dan answers, “Deb, you need to learn to just be.”
“Okay. Tell me how to just be.”
“I can’t tell you how.”
“Okay. I’ll work on it.”
“You’re missing the point. Don’t work on it. Just be.”
“But I want to just be better than anyone else does!”