I’m so happy to share with our readers some witty words of wisdom from author Z.B. Heller. She’s one of our favorite people, and I’m thrilled she agreed to write this guest post for us.
Grammar & Spelling
By Z.B. Heller
Their was a farmer, who had a cow named bob. He was Black, and, White.
Oh the pain! The horror! The grammatical and punctuation errors! As you can see from the sentence above, there are several errors in grammar, all of which are deliberate. I’m here to tell you a little secret. Are you ready? When I write a manuscript, I write pretty much like that.
Have you stopped laughing yet? Good! We may continue. I suffer from a terrible illness called Grammaraphobia, and my plight is even worse; it is paired with Etymologyphobia and Spellingaphobia. Yes, it’s true. In this space, I admit to being a hot mess. So you are probably wondering, “How are you an author if you are plagued by afflictions that would seem to fly in the face of the art of writing?”
I have two answers for you: I am committed to improving incrementally, and I have a phenomenal editing team. I can sit here and blame it on learning disabilities I’ve had my whole life, but that is only partially the cause. I recall well a class I took in college where we were learning the parts of speech. Remember those things like verbs, tenses, clauses, and so on? Where was I during this class? Sitting in the back, curled up in a ball, rocking, and calling my mommy for help.
Rest assured that my editor is looking at this very page in raw form, shaking and with twitching eyes, observing all the mistakes that need to be fixed. Feel no pity for her because I worship her like an Egyptian idol and bring food to place at her feet.
The real question here is why I chose to blog about grammar and spelling, knowing they are areas where I continue to struggle. What I want to share is that in spite of how you might struggle with grammar, it should not stop you from writing. I have been reminded on multiple occasions by different sources that I am a great storyteller. I have wonderful and funny character narratives in my head that need to be captured digitally and shared with the world. This started at a young age when I wrote a story in junior high about a girl who defeated a ferocious monster by using deodorant as her weapon. Back in the dark ages, when I was in junior high, word processors were just becoming available to us and that included what I think of God’s gift to the world—the power of spell-checking software.
Along with my confession of poor grammar comes the other confession: I cannot spell worth a damn. My dearest husband has this running joke that I once wrote the word “salad” on a grocery list with an i, spelling it as “salid.” I adamantly call this a figment of his imagination, but he swears it’s true. The only reason I let him get away with it is because he edited every single one of my graduate school papers and saw my struggles with grammar and spelling firsthand. What he and my professors recognized was the quality of the narrative—the story being told—was masterful.
I want you to understand that there is help out here. Does anyone else feel like that last sentence was a PSA waiting to happen? Anyway, there are numerous books and other resources out there that focus on grammar and proper usage. There are myriad cheat sheets you can print out and keep next to your computer for reference as you write. Consider taking a class at a local community college or online education if that suits you better. No matter which path you follow, the learning process takes time. And anyone who knows me knows that I am the least patient person on this earth. This is often something I have to remind myself as well. Say it with me. “Be patient and keep on writing!”
Now I know you are saying to yourself—or perhaps to someone next to you. “This chick is nuts. Is that not what editors are for?” (And what they live for?) The answer to that is yes! I can be nuts about this; it is the editor’s job to help you out. I’ll remind you what I said earlier: I worship my editing team. They all belong in a special place in heaven just for dealing with me, and I have begun to learn how to be a better writer, even before my words get into their hands. The basic truth is simple. The story is mine, and I need to own it.
In closing, I say to my dear authors, remove the angst that might plague you about grammar and spelling. Like my heroine defending herself from danger with a deodorant stick, defend yourself with books, cheat sheets, and other learning materials to combat the evil “Dr. Grammaraphobia.”
About the Author:
As a little girl, it was always a dream for Z.B. Heller to become She-Ra Princess of Power. Since this dream was unobtainable, she spent what was probably way too long in college trying to “find herself.” Becoming an artist scratched the creative itch until the stories in her head got to be too loud for her to get anything else accomplished. She lives in St. Louis with her husband, son, and Flemish Giant rabbit, Chloe. In her spare time she likes to read, stalk celebrities on Twitter, and create the type of art that people scratch their heads about.
The Chronicles of Moxie is Z.B. Heller’s debut novel, and her novella Mystery, Mazto Balls, and Moxie can be found in SHIVER: 13 Sexy Tales of Humor and Horror, which was released on October 13, 2014. Check them out!
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