Tag Archives: grammar

Academic Update: The Fears of My First Residency

Isn't this the cutest piece of truth you ever did see?

Well, so far I have tackled the residency, and I am knee deep into the first practicum of the program. All in all, I am having a wonderful time learning about the craft. It’s not that I am unhappy with education I’m getting. Instead, I am frustrated with myself for not being “as smart as I need to be” while writing. I understand and respect the need for criticism. It is the most helpful tool for professors to give to their students.

On the positive note, I have passed the dreaded Integrative Essay, my first fiction submission, and my first critical essay. I should be ecstatic that I didn’t fail, considering there are only three options: fail, pass, pass with distinction. Somehow, I can’t get over the feeling that just passing is not enough. I know, it’s a Master’s program, it’s more difficult by design. I should be proud of my accomplishments, but I’m not. Maybe it’s the perfectionist inside, striving towards the pass with distinction. Maybe I’m afraid that my writing isn’t good enough. It’s a fluke and I managed to squeeze by until now. All of these concerns are racing through my head as I read my mentor’s criticisms.

However, it is making me feel considerable more helpless about my skills. I’m not as confident in my own writing anymore because I feel like I am losing my ability to write well. The one time I am shown how to vary sentence structure, and I become paranoid about it. Are these sentences fragments? Does this comma go here? Should I end this sentence in this? All of these questions are being answered, but not correctly by my own brain. Grammar and sentence structure should not be the criticisms I’m getting. I’m a native English speaker in addition to enjoying the language. So why is this so damn hard to accomplish?

Sometimes I feel like Jack from The Shining-crazy with nothing good to show for it

Then comes the ego, when I begin comparing my flaws with the others in my group. In my mind, I’m convinced they don’t have these problems. They can’t be suffering from the same ailments as I am. When we move up to more difficult mentors, what happens when I can’t provide the pass? Will I settle for pass rather than strive to get that “with distinction” or will my writing actually improve with practice?

With all of these questions, I barely have room in my head for my writing. Hopefully, after spilling the beans on here I will have the courage to try again. I want to work harder, make myself a better writer, and show the world the ideas I have to offer. I’m just praying that these fears are normal. I’m not crazy over critical because other students have suffered like this.

What are your fears about your writing? Do you struggle with imperfection or attempting to improve your writing? How do you cope?

I know that I may be afraid of what I can and can’t write at the moment, but I will force myself to start writing again. I might take a break, read for pleasure ( I still have the rest of Stephen King’s 11/22/63 to finish), and then come back to my writing with new confidence. I just hopes my confidence doesn’t take too long to find its way back.

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Are Blogs Full of Bad Writing? I Sure as Hell Hope Not!

Perusing the internet, I come across an opinion article from the Los Angeles Times that has a title worth reading. Michael Kinsley, the author, titles his article “Are blogs killing good writing?”

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-kinsley-column-felix-salmon-20120210,0,1549723.story

Immediately, I became interested in a title like that especially with my new love for blogging and expressing myself in the digital world. I was also offended. Yes, a good writer takes time to create, but I don’t believe everyone (including myself) could be contributing to some of the terrible writing on the internet. I know it’s out there. We see it every day on Facebook and Twitter. The lack of spelling skills and distinction of the correct words in sentences is apparent in a majority of our friends. We thought they were intelligent until we saw what they posted for their status.

However, I tend to give a benefit of the doubt for anyone willing to take the time and dedication to write a blog at least once a day. It takes either a good writer or one who relies on the spell check to consistently put out content. Now, whether the content is good quality or not depends on the education of the blogger. I know that some people think they are entitled to write because they have been moderately educated, but sometimes they still don’t know how to do it. I get that those people contribute to the bad writing on the internet. But it can’t be that many people, right? To Kinsley, it’s too many. He details the opinion of a famous financial blogger about the quality of blogging and online writing. Not only has it degraded in quality, but the amount has increased exponentially.

So, if you increase the product and reduce the quality, what do you get? A million versions of the same crappy product. Do the consumers (online readers) seem to care or notice? Hell, no and we all know why. Because nobody cares about it anymore. No one is willing to take the time or pay someone to take the time and check for grammatical/any other kind of accuracy. I know that I am nowhere near the perfect writer. I’m not even a good one yet. At least, I admit that I have a lot to learn, and that I am willing to take criticism to learn more. The majority of these people pushing out these crappy quality blogs don’t realize they aren’t writing well AND they don’t care to learn to become better writers. Instead, every consumer (reader) settles for this mediocrity because as long as there is stuff on the internet dumb enough for us to understand, we don’t care if it’s right.

By the end of the article, the author describes the reality that all of the qualities of good writing could be overrated. Now, if we are speaking to the new generation and those bad writers on the internet, I agree. To them, it’s overrated because they don’t understand or respect it. Nevertheless, I disagree greatly that the qualities of good writing should just be thrown out because some people think they are exempt from it. Look, these rules of writing were not created to be forgotten just because the medium changes. Instead, the rules should be enforced. Without rules, society has no order. While I believe that some rules can be bent and altered in certain situations, what makes writing good is that people can make a good quality story without cutting corners. It is the people that cut corners that make me sick. The authors that don’t actually follow the rules, but end up selling millions on a book that isn’t very good.

I feel like the quality of online writing is simply the tip of the iceberg. It is not only that some people think they don’t have to write well and will be received by readers. It’s that publishers, writers, and readers will make a book popular not because they value the story for what it is, but for its market value. We use the term “selling out” when a writer gives in the requests of the publisher or popular theme because it will make money. Writers write the story that only they can tell a certain way. Not everyone should write a romance just because it’s popular. If that were the case, they wouldn’t all be good. I wish that people could understand that the books on the best-seller’s list are not all good writing. Just because they make money, doesn’t mean it was actually difficult to write. Now, you would like to think that the writers actually worked to create a good story, but most of them are written to make money. And in this age, you don’t have to be complicated to entertain. The quality is down because it doesn’t take good quality to entertain a reader for a few hours. This is such a sad reality because there are so many underrated writers not on the best-seller’s list or not even published because they won’t “sell out” to the most popular idea. It’s become a staple for people to read a best-seller and assume it is good writing because it’s made money.

For example, Twilight. Regardless of the people who enjoyed the STORY, which was entertaining I will admit. I read the books to entertain myself and they did the job. That’s it, though. They didn’t make me think, care, or even work hard to read the book. And yet it has made millions. It doesn’t have half of the things that make a good quality book. It may have a catchy, entertaining story, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good book. The author knew her audience and gave them an entertaining story that took her the least amount of effort and time to write. I bet she spent more time marketing her book (websites, blog that she was good at) than she did actually writing a good quality book. People loved the book. They ate it up like candy. It didn’t matter how it was written anymore. What mattered was if it entertained people enough to buy the whole series and pass it along to their friends. Is this what writing has come to? Wasting the space on the internet just to get a name rather than a quality product out? Filling up our shelves or best-seller’s list with books that entertain, but don’t change lives.

Now, I know that I may be scrutinized for my previous sentences about Twilight, but it’s true. From those who have spent years reading hundreds of books and learned how to write well, it is difficult to see something mediocre make millions. We watch the quality diminish and we’re supposed to stay silent because people like it? Bull! I’m not going to sit back and wait for the Stephenie Meyer’s and Michael Kinsley’s accept mediocre writing as our future.

I will continue to become a better writer and give a good quality product. No matter how much time I take to write my blog, I know that I’m not diminishing my worth as a writer. I will fight to show people that learning how to write is the most important part of life because it is! Writing, reading, and speaking are the most vital skills we can acquire. They lay the foundation for the rest of our lives. If we allow the quality of these skills to degrade because we’re too lazy to stand up for ourselves, then we deserve to be called bad writers. We can’t just be bystanders as writing is bullied into submission. Stand up and be proud to know how to write!

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