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Monday, June 20, 2011

Quotation Marks? Prepositions? Confused?

Grammarian myths abound in the United States. I believe no one knows all the rules of our convoluted grammar that evolved over the years.

Some people think they know a rule and become annoyed when someone doesn’t follow “the rule.”  Recently, I have seen writers buying into a couple of myths, and, while I certainly don’t claim to know all the rules, I do have a handle on these two.

First let’s examine just one of the uses of quotation marks, partial quotes. I hang my head in shame on this one. I confess I used quotations marks incorrectly for years. Finally I repented when someone had the courage to point out the errors of my ways.

This is correct:

Some people believe life is more than a “walking shadow.”

This is incorrect:

Some people believe life is more than a “walking shadow”.

A partial quotation ends with the period first and then quotation marks in the United States.

Now to move on to the next myth, ending sentences with prepositions. Even after reading Winston Churchill’s famous quote, some people still do not get it. Churchill apparently wrote the following to an editor who had changed one of his sentences: “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.”  In a misguided effort, the editor rearranged the sentence in question to avoid ending it with a preposition, infuriating Churchill. (For more information concerning the quote, check out this link: “Churchill” on Prepositions.)

It is okay to end a sentence with a preposition.

Sometimes ending with a preposition is the best way to end . . . .

“on.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Professionalism

I watch two reality shows on television and I’ve noticed something. Those who display Christ-like attitudes are the people the audience adores. Being humble, hardworking, kind, and peace-makers will win someone a million dollars or a recording contract, if the audience has their say. In other words, if the contestant displays professionalism, he/she is much more likely to emerge a winner.

Recently I read a couple of blogs that dealt with professional conduct among writers. Two things hit home with me. The first was not to be complainers. The second was for those of us who are bloggers to be consistent and professional when we post. Let me expand on these.Untitled
Not complaining, according to the blogs I read, extends even to complaints about computers, internet service, and all other electronic devices that drive us crazy. (Was that a complaint?)
It is a universal complaint among writers (and the general public, for that matter), but we are advised to keep such complaints to ourselves. What if we forget to save our work and our computer crashes and we lose weeks or months of work? We roll up our sleeves and begin again, sans complaint.

Thomas Carlyle sent his only copy of The French Revolution to a friend whose maid used it to start a fire in the fireplace. Carlyle rewrote it. The point is, people admire those who pick up the pieces without complaint and get on with the work. The Bible tells us to do all without murmuring. (Philippians 2:14)

That’s the beauty of morning pages. Pulling out a notebook and ridding ourselves of all our frustrations, and in doing so perhaps finding solutions, will allow us to approach Facebook, Twitter, our blogs, or other social networks with a smile in our words. And that can greatly impact how people see us.

The second point in creating a professional attitude pertained to bloggers. We never know who may be reading our blogs. Some agents and publishers check out blogs to see if writers they are considering are consistent and professional in their blogging. If a writer cannot meet blogging deadlines, will he/she be able to meet publishing deadlines? If the blog is filled with typos and incorrect grammar, will the blogger need enormous amounts of help?
Sometimes bloggers forget people are actually reading the words they post. For whatever reason, the majority of people reading will not comment. Therefore, we assume, no matter what the stats say, that people are not reading our blogs. We need to realize these words represent us to the public.

A blog feels very personal, like a private diary. But it’s not. I know I’ve been surprised several times when people walk up to me and mention my blog. People we never would have imagined read our words and we need to always be aware of this, especially as Christian writers. 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

If we heed the words of the Bible, if we are indeed Christ-like, if we keep our words wholesome, and if we build others up, we are indeed professionals.

And that will guide us on the right path.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Branding

Artists, as we’ve often been told, need to discover their brand. One way to do this is by answering questions about yourself.
Some of you may have seen the following before. I think it says a lot about how we see ourselves. These are my answers.

If I were a month, I’d be November.
If I were a day of the week, I’d be Thursday.
If I were an object, I’d be an iron skillet.
If I were a facial expression, I’d be pensive.
If I were a song, I’d be “21 Guns.”
If I were a pair of shoes, I would be sturdy shoes, laced-up, covering your toes kind of sturdy. Umm . . . . steel-toed work boots?
If I were a time of day, I'd be ten pm.
If I were a planet, I’d be Venus (because Venus is covered with clouds).
If I were a sea animal, I’d be a dolphin.
If I were a direction, I’d be lost.
If I were a piece of furniture, I'd be a bookcase.
If I were a liquid, I’d be Diet Coke.
If I were a gemstone, I’d be a ruby.
If I were a tree, I’d be a Weeping Willow.
If I were a tool, I’d be a hammer.
If I were a flower, I’d be wisteria.
If I were a kind of weather, I would be fog.
If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a violin.
If I were a color, I’d be red.
If I were an emotion, I’d be nostalgic.
If I were a fruit, I’d be a peach.
If I were a book, I’d be David Copperfield.
If I were a sound, I’d be wind chimes.
If I were an element, I’d be mercury.
If I were a car, I’d be a 1945 red Ford pickup.
If I were a movie, I’d be Old Yeller.
If I were a food, I’d be cornbread.
If I were a place, I’d be the ocean.
If I were a material, I’d be muslin.
If I were a taste, I’d be salty.
If I were a scent, I’d be honeysuckle.
If I were a body part, I’d be hands.
What would your answers be?