Yes, it’s true. But if you’ve read any of my posts, you’re not surprised. While I continue to struggle with the end of the novel, I’ve been working to shore up some of the weaknesses I’ve seen in my writing. Most of the early diagnosis (Dude, is that mole on your arm supposed to be purple? What about the throbbing?) is coming from my critique groups. Grammer problems are consistently marked by several of the regulars in my group.
The thing about these regulars is that they’re of a different generation. Boomers know more about grammar than us Xers, Yers, and Millennials, right? I have visions of kids with buzzcuts and pigtails being pounded with rote memorization in between duck-and-cover drills. That’s what the 50s and 60s were like. Whereas our teachers were free and loose, experimenting with learning styles and ability levels.
Over that past year, I would take these grammar critiques and try and internalize them. These were things I needed to fix. I corrected them in my manuscript and told myself I’d go back at some point and try and understand why this punctuation was wrong, but this other one was okay. It didn’t make sense, but it never made sense. Fix it and move on.
The farther I plunged into my manuscript the worse it got. Here’s some passive voice. Fix it. Here are more comma problems. Fix them. You need a semicolon here. Fix it. I corrected and corrected and corrected, pushing off the learning until I had more time.
Now I am taking that time. You’re probably not surprised that some of the critiques I received were wrong and contradictory. Many were spot on, but others…
Bored teachers and uninterested students dominate public education in the US. I can see that far too clearly as a parent. Unless the teacher is particularly passionate about grammar, the students aren’t going to learn the rules. I can’t believe it was any different for the Boomers than it is now. The real difference is that they were forced to memorize the rules. Memorization is different from learning.
I’m going to focus a couple of posts on what I’ve learned about grammar in the research I’ve been doing. There have been several major discoveries for me. Most of the grammar rules are fairly simple and we all do them naturally. Some are complicated and are going to be hard to wedge into my brain. Now that I’m learning WHY I’m using the rules it’s becoming clear why the rules are necessary. Broken sentences are easier to spot and correct. Confusing passages become clear with correction.
It may sound a bit stupid to be coming to this realization at my age, but from what I can tell from ages and abilities in my critique groups, I’m not the only one.
By the way, I’m allowing my normal poor grammar to shine through in all posts. No editing here. It may get better and the rules become more ingrained. But for now, I’m still fixing my mistakes in later drafts. No second draft for the blog. Letting the words flow.
Next time, we’ll talk super sexy. Punctuation!