For those of you who have spent any time communicating with me in a writing format you would know that I have some significant issues with grammar. I am quite certain that if we were to speak face to face I would impress you with my use of language. It does help that I have been told I have a lovely voice. However, when I am speaking with someone you don’t see my woeful lack of grammar, or my terribly annoying use of coma’s and other punctuation that I deem pretty.
It is with some embarrassment that I admit I just checked out “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips For Better Writing.” This embarrassment has nothing to do with Mignon Fogarty, who apparently has mastered grammar so well she is making a living off of it. As I start reading I admire the fact that Mignon put this book out there for the public and I certainly cannot dispute her advice. No, my problem stems from the fact that I actually felt compelled to check this book out. Maybe it was the title, which is cute and catchy. Maybe it is because I want to blanket my work with question marks, exclamation points, and an endless array of dots. I hold myself back only through sheer willpower. I think I finally wanted to shame myself into actually taking the time to relearn the rules. As no one (yet) has answered my ad to become my editor in return for an endless supply of cookies, I find that I must tackle this myself if I want to become a bona-fide author.
Fortunately, all is not lost. I know the difference between its, it’s and its’. I can, with ease, use their and there correctly. It is only when I am tired that you might see me mistype hear and here – and even then it is not through general confusion, but a lack of thought. I take pride in having a higher understanding of the English language, but I despair of easily using affect or effect in a sentence without looking up the rules and crossing my fingers if I end up using them in a sentence. “Grammar Girl” states that “these two words are consistently among the most searched for words in online dictionaries…” I guess I should be happy that I am not alone, but I have to admit that there are times when I wish I wasn’t so dang normal.
It is through my endless quest to better myself that I read through these books. I keep hoping I will have an “aha” moment and my grammar will suddenly and mysteriously improve. I keep thinking I should go through a 12 Step program to wean myself from improper use of punctuation. “Hi, My name is Kay.. and I am addicted to question marks.” You may laugh, but a question mark really makes a sentence. Don’t you agree?
The reality of it all is, I want to write enough that my prose becomes less stilted and more me. I can be a relatively funny gal, but sometimes I’m certain my posts don’t show it – especially those that involve my working through the hardships I have allowed to affect me. I have a lot to say, and I seem to have a compulsion to get it out on paper (or a computer screen) so I can dissect it and move forward. If I have to keep cramming grammar rules down my throat in the meantime so that my writing is easier to read (even if I feel there is a sorely need punctuation mark), then so be it. I don’t think any of you will complain, other than to hope that this phase passes and we can go back to our regularly scheduled blogging.
This final quote, from “Grammar Girl’s” book, has motivated me anew: “I think of grammar and usage as the rules to the game of writing, and the rules are just the building blocks of creativity. Writing proper sentences doesn’t ensure that your work will be brilliant and inspiring, but knowing the rules can keep errors from marring your brilliance and inspiration.”