Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Grammar Shame Game

As you may or may not know, every Wednesday I hold a meme on the author's blog entitled "Wordsmith Wednesday". This is a weekly post dedicated to the art of writing. We discuss strength of words, grammar issues, and words that are often used incorrectly. Due to June's blog tour, I took a few weeks off. And so this morning, before revisions began, I went ahead and posted the Wordsmith Wednesday of the week.

What surprised me was that before breakfast I received four emails from writers and bloggers asking for more information or resources. I replied with several great sites, and then asked each one why they didn't just post the question as a comment. The two that replied back both said that they were ashamed to admit how little they knew about grammar.

Why do we do this to ourselves, people?

I'm just as guilty as the next person. Shame separates us from humanity. It makes us want to hide. Most people feel admitting they don't know something is worse than trying to go it alone.This is the reason I started the Wordsmith Wednesday post in the first place. I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but it pains me to see people hide their work because they fear it's not properly written .

We need to remember, writers are often people who have full time jobs, usually outside the literary field. Most don't have their MFA degree, and some haven't been trained past general twelfth grade English class. But why should that stop anyone from expressing themselves through the written word?

Elementary teachers are taught day one that unless the students don't use terminology in real life experiences they will not develop an intrinsic understanding of the concept. How many of us have used the term "perfect present tense" in a conversation this past week? What about "participle", or "dangling modifier"?

Some writers are privileged to do this full time. They have The Chicago Manuel of Styles as their home page. They've been writing day in and day out for so long that they can spot a split infinitive a mile away. I glory in their spunk. But for the rest of us working schmoes out there, let's take a moment once a week to refresh. And if you have a question and don't want to post it as a comment, please feel free to post it on the Chirenjenzie Grammar thread. We have editors, reporters, and teachers who are more than willing to answer any questions.

There is no shame in enlightening your mind. The only shame is choosing to stay in the shadows of ignorance.

Let's quit playing the grammar shame game.