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The Sad Life of a Grammar Snob

So I’m workshopping short stories this week. I love workshops. I love the energy, the creative flow, the fresh perspectives you get from throwing writers together and saying “Go!”

The problem, you ask?

I’m kind of a horrible person.

You see, nice, ordinary people would read the stories and say “Wow! You made a thing! All by yourself! Out of the air! That’s like the coolest thing since the wheel!”

I, on the other hand, am screaming into a pillow.

What would I like to say about the stories?

Rubbish. It’s rubbish.

(A moment of silence here as we all fully appreciate why I blog under a pseudonym)

Do I say that? No. Of course not. Because I know what it’s like to put your creative work forward, how vulnerable and tender you feel, second, third, and fourth-guessing yourself at every gentle criticism.

There is no place for someone like me to say what I’m thinking.

Hence the internal tension. I’m trying not to flinch if I see a verb tense error I’m not supposed to be correcting.

Why am I such a jerk?

Because at the heart of it all, I just want the stories to be better. It’s because I know what good writing is, I’ve tasted its bliss like Greek ambrosia–and it’s not that difficult to reach. Just sit down at a typewriter and bleed (yes, thank you, Mr. Hemingway. You can go now). Everyone has stories inside of them. It’s just a matter of letting them out, polishing them until they gleam. It can be done. I can do it. Anyone can.

So what I really want to say when I sit down to workshop a story?

“It’s rubbish. Really, it’s total rubbish. But we can make it spectacular. It might be boring as a rock, but even rocks can have the blazing brilliance of a comet.”

Yeah. That’s what I want to say.

…except for the stories that blatantly haven’t been edited or proofread…at all. Those I’m back to screaming into a pillow about.

Need an intense alpha reader, anyone?


10 responses to “The Sad Life of a Grammar Snob”

  1. Oh, I FEEL this. *screams into pillow* I was in a ton of workshops where people didn’t seem to understand verb tense at all?? As in, the story would switch from present tense to past tense to present tense WITHIN A SINGLE SENTENCE. *dies* …I didn’t realize how much of a grammar snob I was until I started doing workshops. It was hard because I know how vulnerable writing can be, so I didn’t want to smack people upside the head with a fistful of typos if they were trying their best…but a lot of the time it really felt like they hadn’t proofread their work and weren’t taking it seriously. *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that sounds about right! What makes it worse is that I can’t provide marginalia for this particular workshop, just end comments. So those little typos and I just stare into the abyss of one another’s souls until I bring myself to scroll to the next paragraph. Grammar snobs forever, right? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, I’m laughing but also crying because I FEEL THIS. How hard is it to make an effort at proper grammar? I mean…really. How hard is it. Apparently very hard????? And sometimes when people disrespect grammar it’s also hard to be a Nice Person. But being a Nice Person Who Doesn’t Crush Fragile Artists’ Dreams is important…almost as important as good grammar.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha, I actually much prefer people, who are honest. And as long as it’s constructive criticism, I would assume they are trying to help instead of trying to put me down. Of course, writing your stories may be a very personal thing, so perhaps people are more sensitive and vulnerable, when it comes to feedback.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly it. I think I just worry about being too blunt because it’s so difficult for new writers (and sometimes seasoned ones!) to separate themselves from their writing. I’d hate to hurt anyone’s feelings.
      And, you know, because I’m a brutal little book curmudgeon. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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