Getting Gritty About Grammar

A friend of mine who was putting together a “private university” once asked me if I would teach a 16-session class on grammar, because of what she perceived as the lamentable state of comprehension of language structures and their underpinnings among the young. Now I could probably do a decent job of that, though I’d definitely have to brush up on some grammar formalities and its seemingly obscurantist vocabulary. But after thinking about it, I decided that it just wasn’t right for me. It wouldn’t be an expression of my voice, like teaching a class on writing an essay or developing a character would be.

The tools are important indeed, but the authentic voice is transcendent.

Here’s a good, helpful essay on finding and developing your writer’s voice, courtesy of Writer’s Digest (and here’sanother fine one, on the same topic from Jane Friedman). An important point in both essays is that the expression of self in writing, be it in diction, passion, slant or tone, can be a variant thing—the hummingbird’s flight is always expressive of the bird, but its dartings and hoverings aren’t always approached from the same direction or desire.

So, let your writer’s voice take wing.

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