Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Celebrate Write!

Today is just one of those special days. It's a day to CELEBRATE!

For may of you, today is a day of partying and revelry before the solemn observance of Lent.

It's Mardi Gras, y'all! 

Parades, king cakes, beads and booze...been there, done that, had the t-shirt and gave it to Goodwill. 

In addition to being Fat Tuesday, today is also National Grammar Day. I'm not making this up! National Grammar Day was established in 2008 by Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar. I didn't make that up, either...they have their own little blog. And I'm one to believe there is a need for this in our world today. 

Katherine Dillinger is a copy editor at CNN, and there is a fun interview with her today on the CNN Living website. Her two biggest pet peeves? Writers who use dashes instead of colons, and the use of the word "probe." Hmmm....colons and probe? Maybe she's overdue for a colonoscopy? (Sorry.)

I've had the pleasure of proofreading two books recently, both by good friends, and both excellent writers and grammarians. The first is by Diane Williams, professional storyteller and gifted fiber artist. 

This is a fun, fun read no matter who you are! I strongly suggest you order your copy today! 

The other is a work in progress, soon to be released on Amazon.com. Written by Belinda Stevens, it's a spoof of the infamous "Fifty Shades of Grey," but this particular story features the main character "Humphrey B" and his pals at the Doggie Bath. There's a lot of licking, sniffing, panting and growling in the book. More about that when it's released. Here's a photo of Belinda and "Hump."

On National Grammar Day, I feel free to say I'm a spelling, punctuation and overall grammar snob. I was fortunate to have some wonderful teachers in high school who stressed the importance of proper grammar and they taught me well. (I have to admit, however, that I hated every minute of it!)

Last year I had the pleasure of developing a curriculum for business writing with Tom Wagner of Wagner Consulting Group. We launched it in the fall for a group of electricians in Flowood, MS. I taught six men, ranging in age from 30 to 65, how to write more effective letters to clients. The first step was for them to identify their reason for writing the letter. What did they want to accomplish? They learned how to cut out the "fluff" and focus on the message. There was a strong emphasis on grammar. They had to write sample letters as homework between the three classes I taught (in three successive weeks). I watched with great pleasure as their confidence rose along with their writing skills.

There is power in the pen. When you have a bad customer service experience with a company, a carefully worded letter to the company president goes much further than a call to the black hole they call a customer service hotline. When someone does something worth noting, nothing means as much as a hand-written note telling them so. (Please note the use of the word "further" in this paragraph. Should it have been "farther" instead? I feel good about my word choice based on this explanation by Mignon Fogerty of the Grammar Girls.)

I am fortunate to be a member of a newly-formed writers group. We are all working on various forms of Creative Nonfiction, and in the coming months, we will read and critique each other's work. We call ourselves the Easy Writers, and we hijacked a logo from another group that we have adopted (there are only seven of us, so we probably won't print it up on t-shirts or anything...)
Before potentially thousands of readers read the works we've written, six sets of eyes will be scanning the copy for spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes. Knowing that, I believe, will make my writing better.

So today, in celebration of National Grammar Day, please mind your spelling. Choose carefully when using they're/their/there and consider kindly the use of apostrophes when writing its/it's. The obsessive-compulsive editing freak in me will thank you.

As if Mardi Gras and National Grammar Day don't make for enough celebrating in one day, I have a special treat for you all! Today is also National Pancake Day, and the folks at IHOP are giving away FREE PANCAKES until 10pm tonight! The only thing they ask in return is that you make a donation to the Children's Miracle Network.

Blessings to all who read this!

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