Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wild Woman of Queens: Notes on Urban Creativity from across the East River.

Mistake by Sandra Lee Schubert 2008

Sandra Lee Schubert

Fondling Typos

The writing group I co-facilitate just finished its ten-week session. I would post a recap on my blog and send it to the group. This went on for four weeks when I got a snarky (I thought) email from a friend about the number of typos and glaring grammar errors in all my posts. He had ignored them until now but could no longer contain himself. My response to him was that it was not helpful to say I had errors and not let me know what they were. He said that these were errors that could have been easily found in Word by ANYONE. He then offered to edit all my blog posts, if he had time, before I sent them out.

Can you see where this is going? My response to him was not do the recaps. I showed him. Then I ran into someone who was not in this current session but really enjoyed reading the recaps. The shortened recaps went out.

The original email just hit me the wrong way. First, I will admit to being a lousy copy editor. While I am at it- my grammar skills suck too. Despite years of writing, and many grammar books, my skills seem to be deteriorating. I am sure someone could tell me why this is, but, for now I must contend with this odd development.I was hurt and offended by my friends comment. It seemed terribly condescending to me and it was not supportive. If he had offered to do the recaps, spending the time to do so, I would have happily have passed them along. In the end, he didn't have the time to do them, or provide me with the corrections. He had the time to criticize.

Let me tell you one thing about grammar that disturbs me. In our writing group we have a lot of first time or closeted writers. They are nervous about the words they write. They bravely come to class and share their very delicately crafted pieces. Most of the time the work is wonderful, touching moving and very revealing. What happens? The first thing out of the mouths of the group is a comment, not about the writing, but about a grammar mistake. "You know you should have a semi-colon here not a comma".

This bothers me. A person shares something intimate and what is noticed is not the lovely interplay between words and characters, but its a misplaced comma. I do not advocate typos or bad grammar. In fact, I do cringe when I read my past blog posts here and see errors I missed in the original editing process. It is a shortcoming in my writing I hate. Nonetheless, I enjoy reading a story that has meaning and substance in it. A misplaced comma will not stop that enjoyment.

My friend has suggested I submit my blog posts to our other writing group. I have declined that offer, he will never understand the immediacy of blogs. In the meantime, I am taking my favorite book, The Grouchy Grammarian, off the shelf. I don't really want to humiliate myself in public. I continue to read stories for people and help them with their content. I leave the grammar to someone else. If you see typos/grammar errors here, please let me know. Oh, if you could tell me what they are...

Sandra's e-course leads people to be their creative best through telling their stories. She is a creative vagabond, a poet, writer who co-facilitates the Wild Angels Poets and Writers Group at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.

Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own. Visit her blog: Email her at: sandraleeschubert(at) or @writing4life via twitter.


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


panther said...

Sandra, I can see nothing wrong with your grammar. We all make mistakes sometimes. I would have been upset too if I had been you-condescending criticism can never do any good.

I also share your concern about the group's nitpicking.I get the impression there are people there who want to score a point rather than to encourage and to receive encouragement. Could that point be made without homing in on a specific individual ?

Sandra Lee Schubert said...

I don't see anything wrong w. grammar either. It is the foundation for good writing.

But the passion for grammar above the content of the writing is wrong in my opinion.

It is like the artist that keeps drawing perfect circles but never gets to draw the moon.