Grammaphobia

I have committed myself to a claim and this is it:

NOTHING is worse for a Nazi Grammarian than having to read a text, post or email with insurmountable errors in grammar. Especially when I am receiving such communication from someone who claims to be an author. If this is the case, it is not cruel to find oneself not wanting to read their book or manuscript, as  many errors in grammar will be expected. Unless one is a professionally paid editor, there is no motivation to read the aforementioned “author’s” work.

But then, I realized that I too have grammatical errors, albeit slight, making me come to a epiphanic conclusion: there are levels of grammar stumbling, and the motive for one such as I to read the story, essay or whatever it may be, is the actual content. Content is gold. That being the case, some authors are readable with their grammar slights, while some authors are deplorable with grammar, syntax, spelling and clarity–it all depends upon the content.

For instance, I once read a novel by a person who  self-published it, and disseminated it to a large audience of members in my group, International Books Cafe, when it was a site on Ning. com.  The person asked me to review it, something I used to do on my site there. I read and was appalled at the many, many errors in that first chapter. What did I do? I kept reading. It turns out the content was so interesting, and while those errors glared at me and I was disturbed by the many of them, I was intrigued by the story. I kept reading to the end.

I’m sorry to say I could not review it, and did not. My eagle grammarian eye was engaged to my squawking tongue and I would have had to point out the many errors. Since she had already spent time, energy (and money) into having her novel published how could I devastate her. I said nothing, did nothing and went about my business. The one caveat for those of you who think content will be enough though: I never read another thing of that person’s, fearing I would find the same issue. Let us hope she was picked up by some savvy editor who had connections. That editor could doctor the work up, charge, then send it to friends who like stories that are well told. The author did have that going for.

Then, there are those others who are ridiculously TOO grammaphobic; like me.

I’ve been writing since I was ten years old. I saved most everything I wrote until I was about 20-25. At one fell swoop, I hated my work and after making a grand fire in the great room in my fireplace, I threw all my works in it and said good-bye to my hopes of becoming a writer. How despairing: songs, poetry, short stories, essays. Everything.

After my divorce, I slowly began again to accumulate my writings. I have saved everything, since, of this new batch. It’s been forty years now. But I still have a problem, much worse than the grammar issue.

I have submitted nothing to be published, because I am too self-conscious. I have changed my work compulsively, to correct sentences, change the syntax for better clarity. I have removed and installed punctuation where I believed it was incorrect, rechecked definitions and changed words that made me change the entire sentence for more clarity. I have rewrote so many stories or changed them into screenplays, or into songs from poetry. I have done so many changes, it is as if I burned all my work again, and started over, and over, and over again, anew.

I was planning to change all that this 2020, but then the PANDEMIC began and once again, something held me back. It was the fear that I might be hurrying my work to get out there, due to the urgency of survival or whatever may have been causing me to panic, not sure by now what it was.

Whatever it was, however, I began to edit my full manuscript I was to submit to publishers, and edited, re-edited, and edited it again–as my usual compulsion got the better of me. Nothing has changed. I thought it did, but it did not. I am still unpublished, and working on my works.

This morning, I remembered my birthday is coming up in September 1st. I will be a whopping 70 years of age. I cannot fool with this issue any longer, as you and I both know that once people start hitting this decade, many start falling off like flies.

Grammar is important, it is. Grammar is well to be adhered. But Content is gold, I must remind myself of that. I need to get back to the story, and not so much the mechanical carriage of the narrative.