””My climate epiphany wasn’t overnight, and it had nothing to do with Al Gore.”
I’m going to tell you something that my Republican friends are loath to admit out loud: climate change is real. I’m a moderate Republican, fiscally conservative; a fan of small government, accountability, self-empowerment and sound science. I am not a climate scientist. I’m a Penn State meteorologist, and the weather maps I’m staring at are making me very uncomfortable. No, you’re not imagining it: we’ve clicked into a new and almost foreign weather pattern. To complicate matters I’m in a small, frustrated and endangered minority: a Republican deeply concerned about the environmental sacrifices some are asking us to make to keep our economy powered-up. It’s ironic. The root of the word conservative is “conserve”. A staunch Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, set aside vast swaths of America for our National Parks System, the envy of the world. Another Republican, Richard Nixon, launched the EPA. Now some in my party believe the EPA and all those silly “global warming alarmists” are going to get in the way of drilling and mining our way to prosperity. Well, we have good reason to be alarmed.”
We were discussing homosexuality because of an allusion to it in the book we were reading, and several boys made comments such as, “That’s disgusting.” We got into the debate and eventually a boy admitted that he was terrified/disgusted when he was once sharing a taxi and the other male passenger made a pass at him.
The lightbulb went off. “Oh,” I said. “I get it. See, you are afraid, because for the first time in your life you have found yourself a victim of unwanted sexual advances by someone who has the physical ability to use force against you.” The boy nodded and shuddered visibly.
“But,” I continued. “As a woman, you learn to live with that from the time you are fourteen, and it never stops. We live with that fear every day of our lives. Every man walking through the parking garage the same time you are is either just a harmless stranger or a potential rapist. Every time.”
The girls in the room nodded, agreeing. The boys seemed genuinely shocked.
“So think about that the next time you hit on a girl. Maybe, like you in the taxi, she doesn’t actually want you to.”
As I stroll through Twitter or scan the blogs I notice there seem to be three key types of writers out there. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve pitched tent in each of these camps in my career.
The Meek “Don’t-Call-Me-A-Writer” Writer
Often the beginning writer, though this type can infect even veteran wordsmiths. Characterized by a lack of faith, this writer will not promote themselves. He believes he’s not a writer because the coveted prize of seeing his book prominently displayed at the front of a bookstore has not happened yet.
He is plagued by the notion that his writing is just a hobby and not good enough for public viewing. He takes few risks and works alone. The best way to break out of this mold is to join a writing critique group. Some honest feedback and encouragement will do wonders for this fellow.
The Self Proclaimed “God’s Gift to Writing”
This can also be writers beginning their journey. This writer knows, deep down, that her writing is the best that ever was. Agents and editors just don’t appreciate what she’s laying down. She may go to a critique group, but the critical suggestions slide off her Teflon skin.
She writes when she feels in the mood. And when she does, she spends hours meticulously henpecking over individual verbs. She’s obsessed with proper formatting and grammar peccadilloes. She’ll certainly point these out in your work.
This writer needs a reality check. A quick visit to Twitter will show her just how many working writers are out there. Perhaps if she knew that nearly 300,000 new books are published each and every year, she might wonder why her work is constantly being passed up.
The Professional Writer
This writer works every day. Rain or shine. He finishes a book or story, revises, and then produces another. And another. He understands that this is a craft and the process of writing will make him better. He attends a writing critique group and listens to the suggestions, but doesn’t feel weighed down by them.
We all strive for that final category, yet I often feel myself drifting into the other two. Mostly this happens just after I’ve completed a novel. I fell like I can walk on water and begin spending all that imaginary cash (that will most likely never happen). Then reality sets in and I slink back to meekdom for a bit.
Writing is a struggle. Day in. Day out. I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else.
"There are a lot of writing apps in the world and sometimes it can be overwhelming to try and choose something that fits your writing process, especially if you’re a new writer, and when you have to spend money before you know what you’re getting. So, I’ve done all the hard work for you and have compiled a grand list of writing apps that have been useful to me. Maybe you’ll find some of them useful too.”
One of the interesting things about the word “grammar” is that many of its users think that it is self-evident that it refers to one thing: “the grammar” of the language. If only the matter were that simple. Whereas linguists are agreed that language has grammar, what they can’t agree on is how to describe it. So, while there is a minimum agreement that language is a system with parts that function in relation to each other, there is no universal agreement on how the parts and the functions should be analysed and described, nor indeed if they should be described as some kind of self-sealed system or whether they should always be described in terms of the users, ie those who “utter” the language, and those who “receive” it (speakers and listeners, writers and readers etc).
Many people yearn for correctness and this is expressed in the phrase “standard English”. The honourable side to this is that it offers a common means of exchange. However, this leads many people to imagine that because it is called standard, it is run by rules and that these rules are fixed. I’ve always understood rules to be regulations that are drawn up in some agreed list. They are fixed (until such time as they are amended) and they are enforceable. In fact, there is no agreed list, a good deal of what we say and write keeps changing and nothing is enforceable. Instead, language is owned and controlled by everybody and what we do with it seems to be governed by various kinds of consent, operating through the social groups of our lives. Social groups in society don’t swim about in some kind of harmonious melting pot. We rub against each other from very different and opposing positions, so why we should agree about language use and the means of describing it is beyond me.