online dictionaries with simplified definitions

A tip: If the definition of a word in your usual dictionary (or Google) is a bit difficult to understand, try looking it up at the Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries website. The definitions there are simplified and friendlier to students, and there are example sentences showing word usage. 

I used to have a physical copy of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary sitting on my desk at my last job. I don’t think I ever opened it, though. It’s easier to look things up online.

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When I was a subeditor, I would mark things up on the pages I was working on and hand them over to a senior editor named Steve. I was new, but my supervisors had noted that I was diligent, a very fast learner, and had a slightly alarming tendency towards perfectionism. Steve would laugh at the things I’d picked up, saying, ‘You have to let some things go—you can’t fix everything.’ He’d counter the things I flagged with stet (telling me to ‘let it go’ in editing parlance: let it stand as it’s printed; don’t make the correction; leave it be) or sometimes he’d scrawl I can live with that beside my notes in the margins in his cramped handwriting.

I’m not very good at letting things go, even after all this time.

find your way

If there was one thing that I was sure that I had always wanted since I was young, it was to write.

When I was younger (oh, a long time ago now, it feels like the distant past) I could write on and on and on, my handwriting a messy scrawl across pages and pages and pages. I was self-conscious about it—I almost never showed any of it to anyone. Handing in writing assignments was almost physically painful since it felt like I was giving a piece of myself away, but still I wrote.

Somewhere along the way, I grew up. I couldn’t write for myself any more, not even in hidden paper journals I’d never show anyone, or locked blogs only accessible to me, or password protected documents in password protected computers. The spark was gone, and I couldn’t find it no matter how hard I looked.

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