Musings

Confessions Of A Grammar Nazi

As likely as not, when any of you read blogs, e-books, regular published books and any other forms of publication, you do not do so constantly scanning for typos, misspellings, and grammar mistakes. Chances are, you don’t notice these sorts of errors unless they glaringly distract from the text (such as misspellings or incorrect word choice that entirely changes the meaning of a sentences). The human brain shows some really incredible capacity to still manage to read things under really amazing circumstances. For example, did you know that the human brain can still decipher a sentence in which the letters of every word are mixed up, so long as they are all there within the span of the word? Interesting, isn’t it?

Well, I’m not normal on that front. It seems that no matter how into the story (or whatever I happen to be reading) I am, grammatical errors and misspellings jump out at me like jack-in-th-boxes, distracting me from the topic at hand. I expect typos in any form of instant communication (I do it ALL the time in IMs and don’t sweat it), even in emails, and some in blogs (due to the fact that the world at large doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of proof-reading–and as soon as I say this I’ll wind up with some sort of error in this post). Where it REALLY gets me is in published books and magazines where it cannot be gone back and changed. It totally pulls me out of the zone. And even more abnormal–if I have a writing utensil handy and it’s a publication I own (i.e. not a library book or borrowed from someone), I will even correct the mistake on the page. I would like to blame this phenomenon on the fact that I am a teacher in my other life, and thus I spend a great deal of time correcting papers, homework, etc. (no doubt my students have more vicious ways to describe me than a grammar Nazi–but they must learn somewhere), but I confess to doing this most of my lifetime–at least since I became a writer. If I wasn’t so in love with writing myself, I’d probably try to become an editor.

Mistakes happen, no matter how many eyes a manuscript goes through. I get that. It’s not like that sort of occasional error knocks an author down a few pegs in my book (particularly with books given that a whole lot of people are part of that process), but I do notice it. And it BUGS ME. I was going through my collection of friends’ blogs this morning over my morning dose of caffeine and the thing I carried away from one of them was that one she left out an “I”. And now I have spent a ridiculous amount of time wondering if I should mention it, so that she can fix it. I’m probably the only one who will notice…

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