Grammar Is Your Friend

We all have our pet peeves, don’t we?

In an irritating society there are plenty of irritating habits that make your skin crawl and your patience disappear. People chewing with their mouth open, snorting, sniffing, coughing, talking, squeaking…I can go on and on. It just depends upon your tolerance level.

But there is something lately that grinds me even more than all those body noises.

Bad Grammar.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a writer/proofreader/editor it grinds me a bit more than you.  But I can’t help but wonder what ever happened to teaching correct grammar — spelling and speaking.

With auto-correct and word anticipation on every computer on the planet, you would think the correct words would just appear. But even auto-correct can’t help with the wrong choice of words. Auto-correct can’t help those who guess at the wrong word or the wrong version of a word.

Grammar isn’t rocket science.  It’s common sense. Something that many people lack.

It’s one thing if you type the wrong word. In my haste to get something written, at work and at home, I have picked the wrong form/spelling/tense. Almost always I catch my mistakes in proofreading. But I’ve come across some people — professional people — who consistently misspell, misrepresent, and actually mangle the English language. And often these are higher-ups — vice presidents, executives — people who should know better.

Today a “sponsored” post on my FB account called Grammarly said, “Sick of making grammatical and spelling mistakes? Perfect writing is a click away!” So now there’s another automatic corrector out to help make sense of your nonsense.

I know I sound like an old lady, but at least I am a grammatically correct old lady. They aren’t teaching cursive in schools these days — but have they given up on grammar too? I hear a lot of lazy English these days — hip language, slurred consonants, half words. I suppose most of that is on purpose. Whether that will get the speaker far in today’s working world only time will tell.

But lazy writing will be the death knell.

I know English is one of the most confusing languages around. I mean, how many ways can you spell where? Wear? Ware? But in today’s world that’s not an excuse. When I see a professional letter start out “Goof Morning,” I have issues. It’s one thing to text “you are my breast friend” instead of “you are my best friend,” but not in an letter to the president.

Not everybody is a writing scholar. I know I’m not. But I’ve practiced. I’ve learned. You owe it to yourself to take your time and reread what you write.

After all, not everyone is Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy. Not everyone is cute and furry and can get away with saying, “Well he don’t know talkin’ good like me and you, so his vocabulistics is limited to ‘I’ and ‘am’ and ‘Groot,’ exclusively in that order.”

 

My Hero — My Heroine — My Characters

Every story has a main character or two. A villain, a hero, a heroine. Good guys, bad guys, and gals. Even your short stories have girls and guys in various stages of love, hate, and madness. You have every nuance of their character figured out — their personality, their hair, their habits.

All of our characters are based on people we know: characters in movies, old paramours, cousins, those who have done us harm. Our characters — good and evil — all come from somewhere inside of us.

So tell me — who are your characters based on? How many famous people resemble your purely self-created stars? Sometimes I have exactly someone in mind. Other times, I find a weird resemblance to someone I’ve come across in my life.

My first novel. Heroine — some version of  me. But not visually. Characters based on some weird, maniacal version of me always are the hardest to visualize. The closest match is kinda like Susan Sarandon but 30 pounds heavier. In her mid-40s. The hero — he’s got to have dark hair and dark eyes, and a slight rough beard. Maybe Doctor Connor Rhodes from Chicago Med. Just the right amount of fuzz on the chin. The matriarch — definitely Maggie Smith. And the pompous ass son — Frank Kennedy from Gone With the Wind. Second novel –same main characters. Add a doctor — Michael Douglas with beard and glasses, and a snotty girlfriend — the latest Carol Markus of Star Trek — and you’ve got some attitude.

Second set of novels — heroine — again, some wacky, astral version of myself. This time with shorter red hair in the first novel and spikey purple hair in the second. I did see a pic of Susan Sarandon with both the red hair and glasses, so she’ll do. The hero — more of Derek Jacobi in Gladiator. The king, definitely Aragon from Lord of the Rings. Consul Tresarrio — definitely Jafar from Aladdin, and Consul Corvenius — Ian Holm, Father Vito Cornelius from the Fifth Element.

There you go. Barred my soul, gave away my secrets.

There’s not always an identifiable face in your stories, but there’s nothing wrong with it, either. Gives you something to focus on, if only briefly. The characters then take over, flowering and winding their vines into their own version of reality.

I’d love to hear if any of your characters resemble anyone real or pretend. It doesn’t matter if you’re published or if you write poetry or haikus — I’d just love to hear your interpretation of your people.

Tell me Tell me Tell me! Do you have a Rhett or an Angelina in your world?

 

Let’s Cosplay


Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water. A bluejay in a subway. A…you get it.

For the longest time I’ve heard the word “cosplay” bantered around in various articles and circles.

I always thought cosplay was the name of a band.

Last night I watched a TV show on the SyFy channel called Cosplay Melee. And I finally realized what it was all about. Dress Up. Tech style.

According to iFanboy (https://goo.gl/fAIbSC), “Cosplay is a shortened form of two words – costume and play. It is the practice of portraying a fictional character – at times completely identifying as that character while in costume (and thus acting as if the individual was that character to add to the authenticity of the experience).”

It seems to me I have been surrounded by cosplayers for like ever and never knew they had a title.

My trips through the years to the Renaissance Faire was full of cosplayers…myself included. Although I didn’t quite lose myself in the lady-in-waiting corset way, I did find myself speaking with a British accent while I dined on turkey legs and watched the joust. I have also lost myself at Halloween now and then, everything from a wicked witch (not to be confused with THE wicked witch), a hooker, and a blueberry. I don’t remember if the acting went to my head — after all, what would a blueberry have to share with the world — but I did go all out on the costumes.

I have been in love with SiFi’s Face Off for years. I love the imagination and the talent of the competitors. It’s fascinating. Cosplay Melee is just about the same thing, except they build extensions of themselves in fantasy mode, where Face Off is somebody else’s face.

My feelings of inadequacy seem to dissipate, though, when I realize — isn’t a writer a cosplayer?

Okay, we don’t design costumes and makeup and physically turn into our favorite creature. But we know them just as intimately. We know how they look, how they smell, how they walk. We know what they think, why they hurt, why they’re insane. We know more about our fictional characters than we know (or more likely will admit) to ourselves. They’re in our head more than on the page, and there’s often no reasoning with them.

That means we make up dialects, languages, and points-of-view. We become them. And if that isn’t cosplay, I don’t know what is.

I suppose it isn’t such a bad thing to dress up and act like your favorite fantasy character. People have been doing that at Comic Con forever. Beam me up Scotty and all that. As long as you know that Neytiri exists only in the movie Avatar and Captain Kirk is only a TV hero, you’re alright. Start thinking you can jump off buildings or fisticuffs with bad guys in the alley late at night, and, well, it doesn’t take much to get back to reality.

Still, I think there’s a little cosplay in all of us. Whether we paint, write, sculpt, make jewelry, or play music. The basics are always there. It’s what we do with them that makes cosplay.

But I still thing there’s a band around with a name like that….

 

 

Happy (day after) Poetry Day!!

If you miss the bus, don’t worry — there’s always another behind it — that’s the one I’m usually on

 

By Reason of Insanity

I write to share

I write to dream

I write to entertain

I write to celebrate

I write to release passion

I write to create passion

I write to escape

I write to explore

I write to feel better

I write to feel

I write to clarify my thoughts

I write to understand my thoughts

I write to understand the world

I write to escape the world

I write to find an outlet for my emotions

I write to make sure I have emotions

I write to encourage

I write to invigorate

I write to bring a smile

I write to bring a tear

I write to cover my inadequacies

I write to deal with my inadequacies

I write so that I never forget

I write so that others never forget

I write to be understood

I write to make others understand

I write so that I will understand

I write because

I am a writer

Don’t Let The Day Ruin Your Day

as-long-as-i-dont-write-about-the-government-religion-politics-and-other-institutions-i-am-free-to-print-anything-pierre-beaumarchaisIt is as if I am handling a puffer fish or prickly bush with my bare hands.

The world of politics is truly doing a whirling dervish these last few months. A lot of my friends are afraid, angry, embarrassed, and/or happy with the state of affairs.

This has led to very charged postings lately, both here and on Facebook and Twitter.

I am happy to live in a time and a world where I can express myself freely. That the Feds or the KGB don’t show up at my office or my house to have a “little talk.” But freedom of speech also can lead to heart attacks, headaches, palpatations, high blood pressure, dizzy spells, acid reflex, and a whole lotta other maladies.

And that’s what I fear will happen to all my friends and contacts if they don’t stop raging.

Let me make this perfectly clear — I AM concerned. I AM stressed. I AM worried. Every morning I drive to work and listen to the news I want to smack myself on the forehead and say “What NOW?” But I tend not to talk about it on social media.

I wonder if all this absorption into the ways of the world are preventing my friends from writing their blogs, poems, short stories, recipes, and whatever else. If it’s draining the desire of crocheters so that all they can do is one looonng doublestitch. If all painters want to do is whip paint at a canvas, ala Jackson Pollock.

I’m sure this madness is not limited to the U.S. I bet if I ask my Australian friends (waves to the few I know out there) or my blogger in Spain or the U.K. or in Germany (keeps waving) I’m sure their country is messed up too. Maybe not as obnoxiously, but just as particularly.

I’m not saying don’t get involved. I’m not saying don’t get emotional. We all need to have our voices heard.

What I am saying is we need to have our creative voices heard too. Don’t let the politics of the moment curb your appetite for self expression. Funnel your emotions into something other than — or besides — social media.

Use your passion to create something that will outlast the politics of the day.  Write something marvelous.Paint something inspiring. Play an instrument like an angel. Show the world you are better than the nonsense around you. 

Because you are.

 

 

 

 

Where Have My Bloggers Gone?

admin-ajax-phpMy method of reading/following blogs is of my own design. I don’t read every day, but rather pick an evening and read through as many as I can. Sometimes I click on “Manage” Reader and go through the list of names I’ve followed since I started blogging.

I was kind of sad this evening, for I clicked on a number of names and found a number of people who haven’t written in quite a while.

Where have they gone?

There are millions of bloggers one can follow out there — who knows what prompted me to follow A instead of B. What caught my interest as opposed to those that didn’t. Be honest. You can only read so much, follow so many people. You owe your allegiance, your attention, to the writers you really enjoy.

So what happened to those whose prose I enjoyed? Whose opinions I shared?

I imagine it’s what happens to most of us.

Life.

Our career changes, our family changes — our place in the writing world changes. Maybe we have burned out our point-of-view. Maybe our style has changed. We’ve turned into painters our needlepointers or quilters, our creativity exploding in new directions. Maybe we’ve had babies or found a new job. Maybe we’ve moved or got bored or started a new blog somewhere else. I don’t  think about the ultimate reason people have stopped writing….I like to believe in happily ever after. Like being immortal.

I’m always adding new reads to my list — but I do miss the old reads. I understand the need to move on, but I still like to linger in the shadows of the past.

There are times when I get the urge to just stop blogging, too. Like I’ve said all there is to say. That my readers really don’t get much from my writing. Yadda yadda. We all tell ourselves the same crap when we hit that plateau. But I soon come to my senses and see how much my writing in here helps me out there. Because of my continuous writing — here, there, and everywhere — I have become a better writer, and am now being given a chance to write at my place of employment.

Others continue writing because they’ve found redemption, release,  and rebirth through their words. They share information, research, spiritual thoughts, funny stories, poetry, recipes — whatever makes them happy. And we love them for it.

The world of creativity is a huge place. When you close one door, another opens. To those who have moved on from their blogs, go for it. Make your now the best you can make it. To those who are still looking for their place in the writing world, keep on blogging.

And  hey — drop me a line if you come on back.

 

 

Write What You (Don’t) Know

anne-rice-novelist-quote-i-do-want-to-go-another-way-to-writeUnder the stress of writing for both business and personal, I am experiencing something that I have encouraged others to do for some time.

If you’ve ever read any of my work (and maybe I should just start a new page and SHARE something once in a while), my style is much like my blogs:  easy going, sassy, fun and a test ground for obscure vernacular. I usually stay in the same vein,  the same comfort zone. Middle-aged heroines, slightly evil protagonists, a little mystical, a little macabre.

But now and then I take a stab at writing things that make me uncomfortable — things I don’t do well. Murders, politics, modern day drama. I do this because it’s important to push my comfort zone just to see if I can adapt. To take a step on the other side of the fence.

I find myself doing that at work lately. Emails and FB posts about products are a lot more cut and dry than free form poetry. I can’t use too much humor or any sarcasm, lest the readers get the wrong impression of the company. Which is how it should be.

But writing these straight-laced entries is more of a challenge than I thought. It seems I’m almost too straight-laced. It has been suggested by my work mentor and friend that Facebook is more a social interaction, and that I can promote products while keeping it fun.

Can you be a different writer for different situations?

Have you ever tried to write third person when all your life you’ve been a first person kinda writer? Have you ever tried to write research findings with a straight face while letting loose with sex scenes in your current novel?

It’s not as easy as it appears to be.

We all have a personal slant to our writing. Throw a bunch of papers from different writers on the table and most times people will know who wrote what. That’s good from a reputation standpoint. But what if the group wanted you to throw something strange and different into the mix? Could you?

There are so many different worlds to try out. And in the privacy of your practice room,  nobody has to read your writing but you. Try a story from a different point of view. From someone who grew up in the Old South. Someone who lives in an isolated village in Norway. From someone who has been abused. From someone in the 1800s who had to go to work in the mines at age 9. From a serial killer.

It is good practice to get into other’s heads besides yours. Even if you’ve never been to Norway, a little research goes a long way. Surely you’re not a serial killer, but what about their justifications?  The point of these exercises is not precision — it’s practice.

I’m about due for a wrong-way-turn short story. I’ve written about places I’ve visited or driven past, my characters are half-visions of me, and I feel safe in my middle-age-heroine cocoon.

And writing descriptions about sheep clippers and paint brushes just doesn’t take me far enough away.