As a novelist and an editor, you’d expect me to tell people that they need to be good writers, or at least that they should try to be good spellers, or to punctuate well.
Today, a Persian friend apologized to me on Facebook for making a very small mistake in a comment to a post I made about Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists. He’d left off the final S in “sounds”.
I wrote this back to him immediately:
It’s okay, I won’t judge you. So long as I understand what you’ve said (and I always do), you’ve fulfilled your mission. It’s all about communication!
See, although I’d like to see more good writing in my everyday life (on signs, in the emails people write me at work, on my Facebook, etc.), I don’t expect it. I’m a specialist, and it would be foolish of me to expect others to be the same.
Writing well is my job. Your job–nay, your mission in life–is probably something entirely different. So you can relax.
Of course, I’m happy to help others improve their writing (especially when they pay me), and I’d like to see the ability to write promoted more strongly as something virtuous and attractive. Well-written letters, for instance, can be charming, even moving–a great gift for the recipient and an outstanding tool for building friendships, family, and romance. I’m happy to have this as my superpower (though it might have been better to have the Midas touch, like Warren Buffett).
But the reality is that most people get by without being masters of language. An everyday grasp is good for everyday life, and that, reader, you almost certainly already have.