The other week someone sent me a job application by Twitter.
She started by asking if I was the person who used to write the Lush Times for the cosmetics company. Yes, I said, and how could I help? Then there was a gap of a month, followed by a request to call her immediately. The writer told me:
‘im a very creative person and i dont want to loose my creativity’
Now, I have a big problem with im. I love reading 1920s and 30s detective fiction. I’ve done all of Edmund Crispin and Marjory Allingham, Ngiao Marsh and Dorothy L Sayers. I’m working my way through Dornford Yates at the moment. When they write ‘im it’s short for him. They use it in speech to show that it’s a ‘workin’ clarss’ person speaking. As in, ‘It was ‘im wot done it, guv’nor!’
That style of writing has gone out of fashion now. It’s seen as old fashioned and snobbish. Rather than trying to demonstrate an accent by writing the words the way they’re pronounced, these days writers will tell you that the character is from Yorkshire or Wales or London and then write the words in full. But I like reading the old stuff, so for me im is pronounced like him but without the h.
Next, loose. I’ve seen it a lot on social media. People don’t know the difference between loose and lose. Divine spelled devine is another popular one. Then there’s genious, which I’ve even seen printed by a well-known brand.
So when this person writes ‘I don’t want to loose my creativity’, I’m tempted to write back ‘On whom?’ but I’m not quite that nasty. I’ll just think it.
You might think I’m being extra fussy, because I can obviously understand what she’s trying to say. But the subtext says, ‘I don’t really care about details, or about you,’ and this woman was asking for a job as my PA, and it wasn’t just the txt tlk, it was the pushiness and the arrogance that troubled me. I don’t mind the odd mistake. But this is the first job application ever that I’ve completely ignored. (Except for writing this.)
The moral of the story
Think about the outcome you want from what you’re writing. Then think carefully about who you’re writing to. Are you using the best medium to get your point across? Are you saying it in the right way for it to have the desired effect? Taking the time to consider these two things, as well as what you’re saying, will help make sure you don’t loose face. Or lose it, even.