Thursday, July 24, 2014

Never Too Late to Learn

I live in blogging fear.

I live in fear, every time I post something, that I am going to be read by a word nerd, and I am going to be found lacking. 

What if I dangle a modifier? What if I put a period inside the closing parenthesis instead of outside? What if I misplace a modifier?  What if I use "whom" instead of "who"?

Will they still need me?  Will they still read me?


Although I knew, from around the age of four, that I wanted to write, that I needed to write, English was not my favorite subject. Not even close. History was.

I lived in fear of my English classes.  I was not a good speller.  My teachers liked to have weekly spelling quizzes.  Even in 10th grade, I was still being subjected to them. I think I failed a lot of them.

One of my teachers even entered me into a SPELLING BEE to motivate me to improve my spelling.  Needless to say, I failed in the first round.  I sat alone in the room where the losers were to gather, as everyone else (it seemed) progressed to glory. 


I know I occasionally commit a Word Crime.



I know grammar is the structure of the written English language.  As someone interested in history, I know what happens when a written document isn't clear.  (Prime example: the second amendment to the United States Constitution.)

I have always struggled with grammar.

 "10 items or less" doesn't ruffle my feathers at all.

I don't pay attention to the Oxford comma.

My mother, may she rest in peace, loved the English language.  She tried to teach me how to diagram sentences.  My school didn't teach that skill.  She thought it would help me out.  It didn't.  I can't even remember how to do it.

My spouse's school taught sentence diagramming. Go figure. He loves spelling and grammar.  He has an extensive vocabulary.

My sister in law majored in English in college.

I'm a college graduate, and I know it is never too late to learn.  I have the power to become a word nerd, too.    The Internet can be my tool.  I can become a better writer through self-education.

Being in my sixties may be a chance to have a different kind of second childhood.  It may give me the opportunity to finally learn grammar. It is giving me the desire to read some of the classics that I didn't want any part of back in high school  The Great Gatsby.  One Hundred Years of Solitude.  Pride and Prejudice.

Or, at least, the debut novel California, which is written in my favorite genre - dystopian literature.

Let's see where I go with this.

16 comments:

  1. Good one, Alana! And thanks for including Weird Al!

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  2. Oh my dear Alana, I think your writing is just fine - and interesting - and that makes up for any occasional grammatical errors you might make! Believe me - as someone who does professional writing and editing and tends to be "that person" who notices every little mistake - your writing is TONS better than what I see on many bloggers' blogs! It's one thing to make an occasional error - quite another to just write poorly to the point that I give up and never come back to read someone's blog! ;-)

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    1. Thank you, K. Lee. Blogging has been a good learning experience. When I reread some of my posts from five, four or even three years ago, I sometimes wince. I am learning.

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  3. I think that blogging is a great medium for improving writing. It's conversational and much less stressful than writing an English paper. I applaud you for moving ahead with your goals!

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    1. I know my blogging (five years worth) has improved my writing from where I started. Now, I am wanting to take that Next Great Leap - to improve my skills through study. Thank you for your encouragement.

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  4. I'm a grammar geek. I could barely contain my excitement this spring when my daughter brought home sentence diagramming homework! I notice errors all over, in newspapers, on television news broadcasts (those REALLY bother me!), and even in novels. Your writing is generally good, I find--no big errors stand out in my memory. Also, blogs are written by real, everyday people who don't have proofreaders or editors, so I feel they should not be read as critically as professionally published material. That being said, I've seen some blogs written so poorly that I've never gone back to them. It's great that you want to continue to learn and improve yourself! Keeping the brain and body active seem to be key for healthy "senior years." Will tell my 14 yr. old daughter to check out California--dystopian is her favorite genre!

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    1. I agree that, both mentally and physically, the aging late middle aged person must use it or lose it - literally, sometimes. I haven't read California - read a positive review of it in the BookPage newspaper. In fact, it was their Fiction pick for July. Although I enjoy some YA dystopian literature and sometimes read more YA than adult lit, this is not YA. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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  5. I love your post! Steve jobs and the founder of Facebook get out from school to learn on themself. It's never too late to learn.

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    1. There are a lot of self educated people out there. I remember a radio talk show host from my childhood (early 1960's), who used to amaze people when he told them he had only gotten as far as the 2nd grade. I have some good examples to follow, and the Internet makes it simpler than ever.

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  6. I never worry about writing. I just get it all down and go over it later. We're so lucky nowadays with the computer which underlines our typos and incorrect spellings with a wavy red line.
    Our early years were so similar. I didn't do well at spelling although I lived English. I've since realized I'm mildly dyslexic. There, that one got underlined. Anyway, I can't remember how to spell certain words, no matter how hard I try--like accross (across). Doesn't really matter. The story's the thing.

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    1. It's interesting that you mention you are mildly dyslexic. I don't know if I am but I do have a first cousin once removed in her 20's who is dyslexic (my spelling got underlined, too) - so much so that she is studying to become a psychologist, so she can help others with learning disabilities.

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  7. I wouldn't say that I live in fear, because I can always go back and make edits. I just hope that I don't make any really STUPID mistakes. (I'm not too fussed about grammatical errors, they're easy enough to correct!)
    I think my writing has improved, but I still have a way to go!

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    1. You are so brave for what you do in your writing to begin with, making it public early in the process. I can assure you that more you write the better your writing will get.

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  8. English teacher here. No need to live in fear. Just have fun with language and punctuation. We all make mistakes, and mistakes can be fixed. Just keep writing and having fun with it!

    Loved your blog!
    Penny

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    1. Thank you, Penny. I am going to lose that fear of being judged. That's a promise!

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