Setting it Straight and Saying It Right

Let’s face it.  Not everyone has the flourish of Rick Bragg when it comes to writing stories about personal histories.  If you’ve read “Somebody Told Me,” you know what I mean – it’s when you feel like you’re from the South, where you find a kinship with the people in Rick’s stories as though they were your neighbors.  How does your reader get to that point of feeling what you’re saying, what you’re experiencing, what your message is?  And, who has the time to worry about how it’s written, when all you really want to do is keep writing the story?

My mom enjoys telling people I used to correct her English even when I was a little kid.  According to my dad, however, my mom didn’t speak English until she met him! Can you blame me for wanting to set things straight?  She speaks fluent English now (did she always??) and still slips up with some funny little words of her own.  My husband and I created a name for this terminology of my mom’s, and I’ve been documenting these little gems long before we all heard of the book and show “$#(*()$ my Dad Says”.  So, you see… early on, and through the years, I’ve been drawn to the English language, to writing, to correctness, to symmetry.  I love reading and dissecting rules about grammar, a total English geek.  To bore you even further, I majored in technical writing (I know, ugh, right?) and creative writing (also not as easy as it sounds!): two ends of the spectrum.  I spent a college semester in London because… well… that what we types do. (Now, for those who know me… don’t expect me to talk the Queen’s English! It is 2012, after all.)

Let’s get back to Rick Bragg.  Everyone has a personal history, and many have the desire to share what they’ve experienced:  life lessons, signs of the times, how it was “back then” and triumphs over tragedy.  Maybe you do, too.  But, in convening that message (especially if you’re submitting), you want to make sure it’s worthy of publication. I’m not talking about the message – everyone will debate about that and you need to know your audience.  I’m talking about English 101.  And, please don’t rely on your sister-in-law or neighbor to proof it for you because she loves to read.

Grammar is not everyone’s forte.  That’s why there are people like me.  Here’s how it works:  I read your project and clean it up a little.  It’s as easy as that.  I’m not here to re-write what you have to say, or change the tone from a Southerner to a Bostonian.  Let’s just take care of those typos and place the quotations in the right spots, so you can move on and do what you love to do.  Now, get back to writing and call me when you’re ready for the next step.

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