It would be a long and arduous process if a writer were to try to label every part of a sentence she were scribbling down, and it would very likely interrupt the creative process. But then again, I don’t have a mathematical mind and so can’t see the benefit of dissecting sentences. While I’m writing, the words and sentences pour out and arrange themselves in naturally correct orders on the page. Grammar is like riding a bike; I instinctively balance and correct, naturally know how to steer and brake. I have been told before by ignorant SAT teachers that having a knack for grammar isn’t good enough– that in order to get a good enough score (which was defined as above a 500), I needed to memorize their methods for recognizing proper structures. I got 740 points on the writing section without doing any of their repetitive, structured homework.

Now excuse me if that sounds arrogant (I don’t mean it to, and certainly feel that I could’ve done better), but I bring it up as a transition to my take on the grammar reading, and it’s important that the reader know where my skepticism comes from. Trying to put structure into something that comes to me naturally is like nailing the coffin closed on my creativity. As soon as I start thinking about parts of sentences, subjects, pronouns, writing is no longer easy. It feels forced and fake; structure like that just isn’t part of my learning style. And I understand what our reading is referring to when it calls grammar the writer’s “toolbox,” but for me that toolbox is invisible. My hands are so familiar with the various tools that I don’t need to look at them to know which one will do the job, and as soon as I stop to actually think about them my project falls apart.

Nevertheless, I am interested in why this reading has been assigned to us. I know that the class is full of strong writers who rarely struggle with grammar. From reading my classmate’s blogs, it’s easy to tell that writing comes naturally to them too. So then why are we reading about grammar? Is this part of the process in which we will “fall apart” as writers, and then get put back together again?

2 thoughts on “Grammar

  1. Believe me, you don’t know the possibilities available to you as a writer unless you understand English grammar. If you were in a chemistry class, wouldn’t you expect to learn the details of the discipline? BEing nearly error-free and using the full range of grammatical structures available to you are quite different. Note the difficulty reading Agee.

    1. I agree with this completely; but maybe I need to go about looking at the variety in grammar a different way. Rather than making it mathematical, I could find a way to look at it artistically.

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