I’ve had a few run-ins with the grammar police, but more often, I read comments filled with criticisms of the writer’s ability and mistakes written by those who don’t agree with author’s argument, as though pointing out a verb tense is an argument in itself. As though good writers are the only ones allowed to express their opinions and only then in a grammatically correct, not a single errant comma or misspelled homonyms, way.
Those haha you can’t spell, write or think comments are the easy way out of coherent conversations. The privileged guard mocking those brave enough to put words to paper and screen.
Should we proofread? Of course. Although I believe a novel even more so than a blog post because there is no going back and no push to publish breaking stories or quick content daily or weekly.
I proofread the heck of my pieces, and I break grammar rules all the time. My motto has been: I learned the rules so I earned the right to break them. Plus, my background is in poetry and not prose. I like to control where people pause. And think. And hear. And listen.
To my words.
So I abuse periods and paragraph breaks. I try to avoid the hanging prepositions, but if a sentence sounds more lovely to my ear when leaving a preposition hanging for all the world to scoff at? I do. I am brave and stupid.
The flow of the words and the meaning of the phrases matter more to me than the perfect grammatical decisions. I don’t even like the word grammatical. It’s clunky like a platform shoe without a bell-bottom to hide it.
I attempt to stay within reason. I avoid passive voice as best I can. I will rephrase to remove an adverb, and I will use a thesaurus to attempt elusive alliteration.
We should all want to understand the appropriateness of a comma and the difference between their, there and they’re. The more we master language, the easier we are to understand, unless we consider mastery to only occur in three syllable archaic words and Shakespearian clichÃ©s.
I want my writing to improve. I wish knowing the rules and breaking them to get what I want off the paper, the post and the reader was not necessary. Perhaps, if I broadened my reading and writing knowledge or if I had been an English major and not a philosophy major more inclined to focus on the argument rather than the prose used to express whether the molecule of a chair can become a table or if they are always essentially chairs, I would be more willing to turn up my nose at the mistakes of others and be more afraid to break the rules myself.
Instead, I worry that so much snobbery makes people afraid to express themselves. I think expression should come first and grammar second.
Writing could go like this:
I have an idea that I think is important enough for everyone to read. I write it down in a flourish of excitement. I proofread it. I have other’s proofread it if I’m lucky enough. I double-check some grammar questions and learn to use hyphens. I make mistake,s but they passionate ones. I keep writing. I get better. I begin to make mistakes on purpose to control my writing and my readers. I learn more about hyphens and which and that and so. I begin to pull back on my purposeful mistake because I have mastered enough of the language to need less control of my readers and more control of my writing. I am not so much consumed by passion as driven by compassion and purpose and beauty.
One day, I write from my heart and from my head. I break some rules, and I obsess over others. I discover my voice is mine, and the critics and the compliments be damned.
The door is open.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Grammarly, a grammar checker program. I was compensated for my work, but I was not told what to write except for the overall theme to be on writing or grammar, which worked out well after my grammar police blitz.