I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD SLAPS, SPEED BUMPS and LIGHTBULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life.

They were published once, and as every writer knows, once is not enough.




Sunday, March 12, 2017

I learn while I drink and drink while I learn



I bought a cup.
It’s one of those tall mugs, (caffeine addicts covet), with printing and drawings all over it like the Sunday comics. Largest among the adorable vignettes, the title:
ENGLISH GRAMMAR & PUNCTUATION.

I love it, not only because it’s clever, it’s super appropriate for me and beyond practical.
Have I ever mentioned I flunked English?
Yup, I did.
In high school we had to complete entire notebooks of diagramed sentences. Every day, new ones until I simply zoned out. Actually, that’s about all we did during the second half of sophomore English in Eureka Missouri. It was tedious and boring.

What I remember. The sentence went on the main line and then we had to draw slanted lines away from key words and label what they were, like, verb, adverb, noun, pronoun and all the rest. I got the nouns and verbs right but once you had to add more lines, which made the sentence look like a stick figure broken ladder, I got terribly lost. I always thought, who cares what the words are called, as long as they sound right and get your point across.

We moved a lot, (three high schools), so I had many teachers who loved what I wrote, but when considering analysis, I was a failure. My spelling sucked too but that's another story.

Anyway, now I have my mug. It tells me everything and gives me examples.
Problem and observation: be very careful when reading mug-rules.
Coffee is hot.
 
Do you stick to the rules or write what sounds ‘write’?

10 comments:

  1. When it comes to grammar, I follow the dictum that you need to learn the rules so you know how to break them properly. :)

    Seriously, grammar is a useful tool to make sure you are communicating properly, especially when there might be doubt as to your meaning. If you've got your subjects, objects, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns all in the right place, with all the appropriate agreements and forms, then there can be no doubt what you mean. For prose, essays, academic writing, and so forth, this is foundational.

    That said, especially when it comes to writing fiction, and double-especially when it comes to writing dialog, there has to be both meaning and voice, a linguistic and emotional understanding. Which means you can't go writing bad English because you don't care to get it right. You have to do it as someone who knows what they're doing.

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    1. Oh Colin, you sound like such a teacher. Your list of sentence ingredients brought back the English class memories I'd rather forget. I'm a composition kinda' girl :-)

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  2. I told my husband this morning that drinking coffee from my new mug will make me smart.
    He said, "You're going to have to drink a lot of coffee."
    Anybody want a somewhat used husband?
    :-)

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  3. You are SUPER smart, witty and talented, Carolynn! You can tell your husband that I'm never wrong. :-) I learned to speak foreign languages just like I learned to play music: by ear. When I start to second guess myself, that's when I start to make mistakes, and I have been second guessing myself a lot lately… :-(
    Languages were born in an intuitive fashion. That's why we can be intuitive about them. But look who is talking -- referring to myself -- I need your cup ASAP! :D

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    1. I learned music by playing by ear as well. I even wrote music for a band a bazillion years ago. Amazing what you can do by paying attention.

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  4. I've often wondered while I'm writing - would someone who's a grammarian read this and think, WHAT A FRAUD! LOL! I will admit, I simply write. The most effort I make is to read the stuff out loud, and move my commas around. I love that cup, btw! And you ought to accidentally spill some of that hot coffee in somebody's lap. :)

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    1. Spill the coffee? Hahahaha !

      I get what you say. After cranking out another column I keep thinking they'll figure out what a sham I am, given that, I don't know what a participle is, let alone a dangling one.

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  5. As a coffee addict and former English major, I am in love with your cup!

    I suppose I write by the rules (as I remember them). Also, since I am in the legal field, we aspire to write correctly so there is no question as to what we are trying to convey. It makes it easier when there are no doubts to the points we are trying to make. It is amazing the damage that a misplaced comma can do. :-)

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    ReplyDelete