Another Month In A Writer’s Life

Now that I have my computer back after an absence of several months, I need to reassess where I stand in both my life and my writing.  Another year is passing, feeling like it is draining away my ability to write.  Each day is one more in an endless series of days where I haven’t written on the manuscript that ought to be the center of my writing life.  It is so much easier to blog and post in on-line role-playing games than it is to put myself on the line with the one project embedded deep into my bones.

Full circle.  One of the first posts I wrote on this blog was Begin. I have to begin yet again. Honestly, this blog has gone further than I ever imagined possible and has, many times, been one of my only links to the writing world.  If I can blog, I am still writing.  Right?  Right!

My characters are frozen in time by non-writing.  It’s like friends you haven’t seen in a long time.  They are still friends, you can still feel that connection, but reuniting takes time and care because subtle things have changed over the months apart, things which have to somehow settle into the mesh of friendship.

Do I consider my characters friends?  I do.  I know them as well as I know myself and, sometimes, better.  Tendencies that I cannot recognize in myself, I easily see in them. One of the problems is, when I stopped writing daily, I was stuck at a point where nothing seemed to be working right. I am afraid to go back because I am afraid I will still be stuck.

I don’t have the time.  I work 8 – 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. When I go home, I have a house to clean and groceries to buy, laundry to do, two sons on their butts to attempt to motivate. Okay, I am like anybody else in this fast revolving world. There are days when I feel like when I turn around it will be Christmas. Ever noticed that the older you get, the faster the days go?

Excuses.  I know.  I know.  These are excuses born from fear. What if my writing isn’t as good as I want it to be?  What if I never get past the stumbling block I left behind? What if? What If? Why do I live my life with what if’s? Wasn’t that one of the words I was going to strike from my vocabulary?  If not it should have been.

So how do I get reacquainted?

To be totally honest, I think it will take just jumping in, feet first, risking water closing over my head.  Trusting that no matter what, I will come back to the surface, emerge back into a world from which I’ve been estranged for far too long.

It is either sink or swim.  Waiting for the perfect moment gets me nowhere.  There is no perfect moment.  I would be waiting forever and there is no fairness there.  Not for me and not for the characters patiently (or otherwise) waiting for their story to be told.

So it is time to stand of the edge of the cliff and jump.  I hope there are no rocks hidden in the water below.  Hands up, body poised, eyes closed… I spring and fall into a world I have never, and will never, forget.

National Grammar Day

(Written on National Grammar Day but was unable to publish at that time.)

Today is National Grammar Day.  Being an English Major and irritated by bad grammar, I decided to offer some thoughts on the subject. First, I am one of *those* people. You know the ones. They correct the grammar of the actors on TV, gripe about the horrors of grammar seen on Facebook and other sites, even bitch about incorrect grammar in the newspaper. I don’t mean I write the actor or the writer, call the News Station, write a post on Facebook or even call the newspaper office. I do sit on my couch and correct grammar on TV, much to my son’s embarrassment.  When I find an error in the newspaper, I cut it out and ask them to correct the mistake.  When my sons were in school, they learned not to ask me to edit their papers.  I always found too many errors for their liking and insisted they correct them all.   I simply can not – will not – read a post, blog, story or anything rife with grammatical  errors. See, I *am* one of *those* people. (Don’t get me started on misspellings).

So why is grammar important?  With the advent of computers, Blackberries, texts and other forms of torture on the English language, grammar is slowly going the way of the dinosaur.  Language is evolving into an abbreviated art-form built upon the bones of  LOL’s, ROTFL’s and any others you might name.  Some might question if this is a bad change?  What difference does grammar and complete words make if we still understand each other?

Language, whether written or spoken, is the glue holding us together as a species.  We understand each other because we know that a period goes at the end of a sentence and the first letter of that sentence is capitalized.  We understand who and whom, their, there and they’re. I before e except after c (though there are relatively few words that actually follow this rule).  We understand the difference between a colon and a semicolon and how nouns and verbs fit together. Without the rules of grammar, language would be a misguided run-on sentence with no clue as to when to pause, end or begin.

I am not saying everyone should be a master grammarian able to diagram a complex sentence with their eyes closed. I am saying that basic grammar plays a major role in uniting us in communities, countries and the world. If we can’t understand our own sentences, how can we expect our neighbor to understand?  How about somebody half-way around the world?

We have gotten lazy with language. It is easier to ignore the rules in this fast-paced world. LOL and CU are taking away the beauty of the English language. We might have a whole new language in 50 years but as long as we have the same rules of grammar, we will still be able to understand each other.

Take LOL.  Laugh out loud.  Who is laughing out loud? Is the laughing doing the action? Is out the verb? How about loud as the Direct Object. What the heck? What is so hard about saying ‘She laughed out loud.’ Change the statement to “She is laughing out loud,” and you have an entirely new tense for the action. How much nicer is it to say ‘he ate the apple’ instead of ‘he eat the apple’.

Grammar is about understanding how sentences fit together, but it is also about the rhythm and feel of the language. Abbreviated words and the lack of correct grammar are breaking down the music of language, leaving us with nothing but the raw sounds attempted when mankind first leaned they were embarking upon a bold new way for understanding each other and their world.