Hiding from Grammarians

I’ve mentioned before how I sometimes slip into Cajun Woman mode (except without the tights). I swear, I’m educated. I have a degree and all! But there are some things I just can’t make myself learn to do, or rather…okay, I’m lazy!

I actually took Advanced Grammar in college. For one semester, I was an English major! Er, of course, I also tried my hand at Psychology (twice), English Education, English, and then finally settled on  History. As you can see, the English portion of my education was mighty. I could actually go back now and would only need 3 or 4 classes to hold a BA in English. Why aren’t I doing that?

Because I suck at grammar. Oh sure, I’m better than some people (like my nephew), but I’m nowhere near as proficient as I should be for an aspiring author. I write because I love words. The punctuation just gets in my way. My poor critique partner no doubt tears her hair out over my mistakes, but I do try…most of the time. My love of writing is more from loving how words fit together. I love the fluid ebb and flow of great prose. I devour witty, fast-paced dialogue. I hate punctuation.

I love words so much, I sometimes go overboard. I admit it, I can be a bit wordy at times (I hear your shocked gasps), which is why I have my brainstorming partner read my stuff for me. Um, okay, so I did use ‘coils of passion’ and got soundly bashed for it. It went something like this:

Brainstorm Buddy: You know I love you, right? But…”coils of passion”?
Me: I was trying to sound theatrical!
BB: Yeah, but “coils of passion”?
Me: Okay, so it is that bad. I’ll change it.

Now, my critique partner, on the other hand…poor lass. I can’t tell you how often I get my chapters back with commas taken out, semi-colons added, commas added…She’s the best. She’s an English teacher, which I’m telling you now, has no doubt saved me endless embarrassment at the hands of editors and agents. Without her grammatical and practical input, I think my hopes of ever being published would be dead. Grammar. Meh. I curl my lip at grammar! I bite my thumb at thee!

But don’t let this drivel fool you into thinking I don’t care about some grammar. I do. There are some things that drive me insane and I just can’t take it anymore. Your/You’re…OMG (I can’t even type it out) OMG don’t do this to me. I beg you! So just because I brought it up, here’s an article about apostrophe usage for everyone’s benefit. I’m going to peruse it further because I know my critique partner will thank me for it, lol. http://bvs-romance-writer-u.com/blog/?p=154

How about you? Are you a grammarian? Are you a word whore? (I am) Are you a bit of both?

P.S. I take no responsibility for any grammatical errors in this (or any other) post. I just spent ten minutes explaining how awful I am at grammar. Read at your own risk!


Filed under Writing

5 responses to “Hiding from Grammarians

  1. Danica,
    Dear, dear Danica, your (possessive pronoun adjective) ideas on punctuation have nearly made me toss my tiara! You’re (contraction of you are) thinking about punctuation in such a negative way. Punctuation is the reader’s road signs. Without punctuation, can you imagine the pile up of readers and words by the second page of your novel? In case you didn’t know, the Bible was written first with no punctuation marks. Could that explain the different interpretations of certain passages? Definitely. The Reformation? Maybe.

    Incorrect punctuation is almost as bad. Let’s say you want your reader to drive from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, but you don’t warn them to slow down before they get to the confusing 1-10 /1-12 split. Is it their fault they end up in Ponchatoula? I think not. Commas tell your reader to slow down so they have time to get into the right lane to New Orleans and arrive at your happily-ever-after ending, knowing how they got there.

    Danica, punctuation is the writer’s friend. Over the years, though, I have come to believe that knowing how to use punctuation correctly is like faith; it is given from above, not earned by us here on earth. Sure, if you study harder, you will improve, but it may never become second nature to you. So, don’t beat yourself up too much. Do your best and be thankful you have a critique partner who knows her commas from her apostrophes.

    Personally, I see nothing wrong with wordiness.

    The Queen of English

    • Your Majesty,

      My most humble apologies! I bow to your supreme wisdom. Punctuation is not as horrible as I’ve made out. In fact, I have some fondness for certain exclamation points. I use them all the time when expressing my delight with another author’s success no matter how big or small. Question marks are another lovely addition to prose. However would we learn anything without them?

      I can never express how thankful I am to have a critique partner who seems not to mind my misuse of the comma. (Has anyone else noted how close comma and coma are?)

      Please, madam, do not toss your tiara. I retract my negative comments and will look upon punctuation with a far kinder eye.

      Danica Avet

  2. Danica, I devoured “your witty, fast-paced” post here on your blog. You took the words right out of my mouth: “My love of writing is more from loving how words fit together. I love the fluid ebb and flow of great prose.”
    That’s why I teach English, so that kids today have the opportunity to experience that “ebb and flow of great prose,” and have the skills to some day write it. I write for the same reason.
    As your critique partner, I can attest to the fact that your punctuation isn’t as bad you say. I’ll keep putting the punctuation marks where they belong as long as you keep writing those great stories of yours. Is that a deal?

  3. Toni

    Great blog! Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. I don’t hate punctuation and grammar, I just have a lot of room for improvement where they are concerned. It’s good to know that I’m not alone. LOL.

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