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Monday, July 6, 2015

RIGHTING - a cranky re-run

This cranky re-run is from July 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. I feel about this the same way that I feel about photos - sometimes you can break the rules and get a great result. I do think it's an important part of education to be taught spelling and grammar but not at the expense of ideas and content. What I would like to see more of is an expansion of vocabulary to enable children to express themselves more fully. There are so many great words that don't get used enough and plenty of children with the imagination to use them.

  2. A paragraph with only one sentence... who'd do such a thing?

  3. I noticed that my kids had a few language arts teachers who encouraged journaling, where spelling, grammar, etc. were not stressed. Hopefully, that encourages some kids.

  4. Oh the rules of writing. There are many. I remember in college trying to adhere to all those rules. I too think the professors were more into the rules than the content. Bless their hearts.

    Have a fabulous day Cranky. My best to Mrs. C. ☺

  5. The only teech I got in an argument with over this I won the argument by presenting excerpts from the Silence Dogood letters. Only all I won was the argument, my grade still got whacked ...... must be a communist conspiracy afoot?

    My all-time favorite treatment are 'writers' who quote some of the old-timey not-by-the-rules literature and actually correct them in. There was a piece that I stumbled across on the internet years ago (which now seems to be gone) that tried to explain the Silence Dogood letters from a historical (hysterical?) perspective but insisted on correcting many of the facets of the works that make it so intriguing. It was fascinating to me to see such bold unfettered arrogance at work ....

  6. An interesting concept, Joe.

  7. Write on, my cranky friend!

  8. Aww, who needs 'em? I think your writing is awesome, and so apparently do many others who visit here often. I wonder how many blog followers THEY have? Wasn't it Tennessee Williams who also had a one-line paragraph?...."Go to hell." :)

    Everyone has their own writing style...mine is to write like I speak, hence I say "gonna" and "kinda" and "'em" a lot. People seem to be able to get my drift, so I guess it's OK.

  9. Grammar and spelling are important, but creativity is much more so. These days with the computer programs of grammar and spell check, there should be more emphasis on teaching on how to present ideas and content I do believe.


  10. Three sentences to a paragraph? Aw crap, now I will think that every time I
    write---or maybe not. I'm with you on this one.

  11. I think you're a very good writer. I don't stick around just for ideas and content; I have to like the writing structure and voice too. Grammar is very important when it is the grammar rules I agree with, the grammar rules that I judge to be pedantic or old fashioned are not important ;)

  12. She probably would have failed Frederic Brown for his horror story "Knock". Here it is in its entirety: "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room There was a knock on the door..." (Not even 3 sentences!!)

  13. Some of the best books I have ever read were not grammatically correct and had run-on sentences and less than 3 sentences per paragraph. I think when creative writing is restricted by "rules" such as those, it stifles the creativity and crushes the child's (or adult's) desire to express themselves through the written word. You have to wonder how many great writers there "could have been" if not for being stifled in school by all the "rules" -- That being said, I do believe that grammar and spelling are important and should be taught - I'm just not sure it should be stressed so much with creative writing. I homeschool my kids 1st grade through 4th grade and they have a morning journal that they write in. Sometimes I give them subjects to write on, and sometimes it's just up to them. The rules of this journal is that I read it to look for content and to see their thoughts and ideas. I never mark their journals in RED pointing out spelling errors or any other kind of grammar corrections. If I did that, they would not enjoy writing in their journals. Some of their best writing has come from their journal entries.

  14. I bet that teacher of yours never published anything worth reading.

  15. I agree that correct spelling and grammar are important, but more so in business writing. If you can generate creative writing, you should be allowed to break some rules - and they often are, by fantastic writers. If every great writer were a perfect speller and grammar scholar, there would be no jobs for proofreaders and editors!

  16. Your teacher was a jerk.
    What idiot made that "at least three sentences" rule?
    I like the way you write. Here at least, since I haven't read your books.

  17. Write what you love. If you are good and make a career out of it, your teachers will be envious because you can make more than they do!

  18. Writers break so many so-called rules. They have to, to make reading enjoyable. You're a great writer. Hope your ex-teachers get a chance to read your posts.

  19. I have to send this link to my sister! You're going to become her new idol! Or in her writing style "Your going to become her knew idle!"