I am a Grammar Nazi. I am one of those infuriating people who can’t help pointing out the redundant commas, misplaced apostrophes and spelling mistakes in any written document. Some of the authors are appreciative. Others immediately cross me off their Christmas party invite list (I’d point out all the errors on the invitation, for starters.) But I can’t help myself. The urge to correct and improve is irresistible.
When I first met my partner, we went on only one date before he left for a holiday in Australia. He sent me a postcard from Brisbane, and I think I started to fall in love with him when I realised his message contained not a single grammatical error.
Sad but true.
At work, people run the other way if they see me approaching with a red pen and an earnest expression. Many of them do ask me to check their work, but after I return it, desecrated by red slashes and squiggles, I think they start to regret it. I don’t let them get away with anything.
And the thing is, I love it. I love the close, analytical examination of words and sentences and I love helping people say what they want to say in the most effective way. I find it very satisfying.
I also love working in solitude. You know those “team building” sessions at your workplace where you all split into groups and have to work out a mathematical problem using only water balloons and bottle tops? Afterwards the facilitator whips out the butcher’s paper and whiteboard markers and leads the compulsory discussion on “What we learned about teamwork, ourselves and each other”. Honestly, just writing about it makes my skin crawl. I hate it with a vengeance.
I like being ordered and logical and working out puzzles. I love brain teasers and crosswords. I got an “A” in Critical Thinking at university – a course that teaches you how to formulate an argument based on mathematical principles. This all may seem to sit rather incongruously with my love of creative writing. But the two sides of me co-exist quite happily. When I’m working on a short story or poem or my novel I “let go” and write, surrendering to the flow of words and feelings from my head and heart onto the page…and then I take great joy in furiously correcting, editing and rewriting it.
Just out of interest, here are my Top Ten Grammar and Spelling Pet Peeves:
1. Your and You’re. Your sure to come across this one if your on Facebook for long enough. Gaaaah!
2. It’s and Its. Its not difficult people.
3. Their, There and They’re. Their so infuriating.
4. Using apostrophes to turn a singular into a plural: Tomato’s. Apple’s. Chip’s. Book’s. In fact, incorrect use of apostrophes, full stop.
5. Draw and Drawers. I do not put my clothes in draws, people.
6. Commas instead of full stops, that’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s really annoying.
7. Overuse of exclamation marks!!!!!
8. Affect and effect. But this one probably doesn’t effect you. Grrrr!
9. Very unique. No, my friends. Just…no.
10. Could of, should of, would of. Again….no.
So, here’s the thing. I figure that if you can’t overcome an obsession like this, you should embrace it. Clutch it to your bosom and refuse to let it go. Most importantly, see if you can make money from it.
I’m heading back to school, people. I’ve decided to study for my diploma in copy editing and proofreading. Then, with my new qualification and two existing ones (an MA in English and a post-graduate diploma in journalism) I’m going to set up and run my own writing, editing and proofing business from home. In theory, this will help to fund my creative writing which I will continue to do simply because I love it (and because it generates income too.)
So, I’m pretty excited.
And to all my fellow Grammar Nazis: Yes, the mistake in the title was intentional.