November 04, 2010

On pet peeves and mistakes

I am a good writer.

I know this to be true, and can say so without feeling like a jackwagon (my new favorite insult, thanks to that GEICO commercial), because nearly every teacher from elementary school up through college, an editor and an agent, and a regional newspaper editor have told me so. To me, this is the same as saying I'm white or I have green eyes.  It's a fact.

Now, whether I am a good novel writer (in which storytelling is just as or even more important than the writing), or whether I'm a good writer compared to JK Rowling or Stephen King or Neil Gaiman, I don't know.

But I do know the difference between you're and your, their, there, and they're, its and it's, and all those other writer pet peeves (which are not necessarily my pet peeves).

I know, and yet I still catch myself messing up. My biggie is using it's instead of its. It's (ha) like my fingers just love typing that apostrophe.

I've forgotten how to spell 'all' (I was trying to spell it out like it sounded... a-w-l in my slightly-Southern-tinged pronunciation).

My comma usage is far from standard.

And somehow, even though the writing community is one of the most welcoming and least catty I've been a part of, I'm surprised by the amount of Ugh! I can't believe they don't know that [insert writing mistake - or maybe not - here] I see.

And if you're guilty of this, don't feel like I'm aiming this at you. I'm not writing this to call out or tear anyone down. I'm sure I've been guilty of it at some point, too.

People have a right to their pet peeves. I have them, trust me. But it's important to remember that just because someone spells definitely "defiantly" or "definately" or says "for all intensive purposes" instead of for all intents and purposes or uses impact as a verb doesn't mean their there they're a bad writer.

(The above is not a poorly-concealed list of my pet peeves, by the way, but several more biggies I've noticed batted around the blogosphere.)

Just because someone uses commas wrong doesn't mean they're a bad writer.

Just because someone does something that makes you crazy when you see it in print doesn't mean they're a bad writer.

Just because someone uses just way too many times in a blog post doesn't make them a bad writer.

Just something I've been thinking about.

;)

10 comments:

Holly Dodson said...

Well said, Abby!

Ella Press said...

This is just awesome!

Angela Ackerman said...

I think this happens automatically. I know my homophones, but I often put it's instead if its or you're instead of your. Drives me nuts, because it makes me look like a green writer. I think when the creative switch flicks on, these grammar lessons are pushed out of my brain. :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Emy Shin said...

YES.

Awesome post!

I try to be observant of grammar where I can, and I know my its and it's, there and their. But it's hard. And we call make mistakes. Even if a person genuinely doesn't know a grammar rule, he or she isn't a bad writer. Writing involves so much more than just grammar and spelling.

Sarah Enni said...

OMG. All Intents and Purposes.

...

I had no clue.

Also, you are awesome. I was just thinking about this today. Why get so worked up, really? Are we upset that editors and copy editors have jobs?

Pam Harris said...

You said it! :)

Claire Dawn said...

It's gets me every time. Also when typing anything ending in ng, I always type gn. Drives me batty.

Sierra Gardner said...

This is a great post! I told my roommate something that sounded a little snobby but was also true. I'm a pretty good writer - not because I know every grammar rule(in fact, I know very few) but because I grew up reading great books. When I write I can tell the difference between something that is engaging and well written vs something that is dull and forgettable. As for the rest, I'm hoping my friends will help with the grammar editing =)

Hannah Jenny said...

Totally true. And I say that as a self-confessed grammar/language snob. I try to be nice about it, but I don't know whether I succeed. I don't reserve it for writers, though, and I know good grammar alone does not make good writing and bad grammar alone does not make bad writing (at least, if we're talking about spelling errors and other things that can be fixed by editing. It does have to make sense!).

However . . . please don't say "one of the only" :)

Shayda Bakhshi said...

I think that the MORE I write, the worse I get at noticing those little things. Although, when I say "write", I mean "type."

My typing skillzzz are made of suckage, now. I think it's just muscle memory. You get so used to thinking/typing "there" that when "their" comes along, it just doesn't compute.

So yeah, totally sympathize!

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