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Tuesday, July 24, 2012



I like writing.  It helps me get stuff out of my head.  Sometimes I think I write good stuff, sometimes not so much.  I did not start writing until I retired several years ago.  I had the time, I needed to do something. 

I liked writing when I was in school, but I never wrote very much.  The teachers never encouraged me.  All I ever heard from my teachers was “your spelling is horrid, and your grammar is worse.”

I only argued with a teacher once.  I was told that a paragraph MUST have at least three sentences.  I wrote a paragraph with ONE sentence.  It cost me a 5 point penalty in an assignment.

I argued that Ernest Hemmingway’s books often had paragraphs which had less than three sentences and if one of our greatest authors could write a paragraph with one sentence then I could write a paragraph with one sentence and I even showed her an example of a Hemmingway book which had a paragraph with only one sentence.

Her response?

“So you think you can write as well as Ernest Hemmingway?”

My response?

“So who should I try and emulate, Ferdinand D. Nobody?”

The teacher took off another 5 points.   

Microsoft word has helped with my spelling, and I am old enough to say, “Frig grammar!”  So I am now attempting to write stuff.  Not so grate (ok, so word is not perfect) maybe, but I enjoy doing it.

To all you English teachers out there I suggest that you continue to stress only spelling, grammar and sentence structure.  Discourage those that cannot spell or whose grammar is deficient.  Those things are very, very important. 

Pay no attention to ideas or content.  

Anyone can think.


  1. Of the "3 R's" I preferred reeding and righting the best. Remember conjugating verbs and diagraming sentences? What the hell was that all about?


  2. "To all you English teachers out there..."
    What a bunch of maroons!
    Somewhere along the line they surrendered

  3. Ferdinand D. Nobody is sitting somewhere, holding his manuscript, thinking to himself "Hey, what's wrong with ME?"

    I couldn't agree with you more about this. Well, I mean, I COULD but that would be overdoing it, as I already completely agree with you, so I'd have to overflow my agreement. Spelling, grammar, etc., are tools -- they can be corrected and taught. Ideas and creativity and fun cannot.

  4. I taught English 100 at a local community college. That's remedial English for incoming freshmen. The very first thing I had to teach them was I didn't give a rat's rear end how wide a margin or what size writing they turned in. They did learn how to organize their thoughts and make a point. We got along fine and everyone passed except the fellow who made a pass at me, in class. I said those are failing words, son, and he never came back.
    Thanks for the memory--I only just recalled that.
    So, why must we still pass the robot test to enjoy your blog?

  5. I've heard that it's okay to break the rules once you've mastered them. The trick is to convince others you have mastered them when you haven't. Up until now, that's been my secret.

  6. I was twelve when I wrote a story for an English class. My teacher sent me to the principal's office because 'it was too good,' therefore I couldn't possibly have written it...after all, I was a 'foreigner' and still learning English. I decided then and there that I'd learn English by reading and not by what came out of my English teacher's mouth.

  7. Nail, Head.

    That breaks every grammar rule there is, but it's a perfect descriptive of what you've done here.

    I have a favorite blog writer (aside from your own illustrious self, of course) who goes by the name Magazine Man. He's worth a read (or two, or several hundred) in any case, but his latest touches upon rejection of his work by teachers. His address:

    The point, in fewer and less-entertaining words, is that he has been published, has been employed as an editor at some of the most prestigious magazines in the world, and is, IMVHO, one of this generation's mostly undiscovered great talents, but he was unable to gain entrance to a creative writing course during his school years because his teachers felt his work wasn't up to snuff.

    I've long been of the opinion that creative writing is best learned by doing it, and the fewer rules you worry about (outside of spelling and punctuation) the greater your chance to actually find your unique voice. You've found yours, despite the best efforts of some teachers to keep you from doing so. Good for you!

  8. my oldest 2 kids were part of the whole language education phase....they were taught to write everything as it sounds and not worry one bit about the actual spelling. they are college graduates now who can't spell.

  9. You think righting is hard? Try doing that stuff when you are dyslexic!

    Didn't stop me getting my basic degree in science and two post-graduate degrees, tho! Fortunately my tutors were more interested in my "ideas" about things and how I expressed this as "content"!

    (I have 'transpositional dyslexia' - I transpose letters within words when I right and I mirror-reverse things as imagery (like 'right and left') and reeding is a real struggle for me. Thank God for good spell-checkers, audio cassettes and VCRs followed later by CD's and DVD's.)

  10. Thanks for sharing this link with me! Funnily enough, spelling and grammar are my no-problamo areas. (Not surprising, given my profession as a proofreader.) Just still searching for that elusive 'voice'. But you're right - if you have the ideas, you'll develop the voice. Thanks.

  11. P.S. Captcha's off again! Enjoy your spam...