Reading (and Writing) Woes

I love to read. I have loved reading since I was a youngster, hiding in the bathroom with old textbooks borrowed from my parents’ college-days boxes, and magazines. I even tried to read Shakespeare. I was 7 years old. I did not like Shakespeare. However, I loved reading Parents magazine, some old fashion magazines from the UK that my mother kept for the dress patterns in the back, and I even adored the leftover English literature textbooks that my father (or was it my mother) had used in school. My mother is an English teacher and, through her, I learned to love the art of reading, composition, grammar and spelling. I was writing out wildly imaginative stories before I hit a decade in years. I loved Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and, when I was about 9, I decided to write my own African Nancy Drew. Yes, she also had strawberry blonde hair. Weird because I had, at that time, never met anyone boasting strawberry blonde hair or any other type of hair besides my Afro-black hair.

Reading was an escape for me because I could go anywhere that I wanted to visit in the world by simply opening up a book or, if one was unavailable, writing out my own story. My protagonists were almost always girls. And their story was always a Cinderella-based and warrior archetype. When I moved to wulaya, I discovered some amazing writers: Ralph Ellison, Maya Angelou, Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, James Baldwin, Binyavanga Wainaina (yes, I had to move out of Kenya to discover him) and others. Reading breathed life and fire into me. One Christmas, I even requested (instead of waiting to be surprised by some present that I would inevitably never use) a Nook. Glory. Downloadable books at my fingertips, regardless of my location on whatever continent. I have read by candlelight, by torch and by cell-phone app flashlight.

So you can understand why I absolutely love reading blogs by other people. Writing styles woo me, seduce me, thrill me and throw me into a frenzy. I once clapped out loud after I read a poem posted on someone’s site because the cadence and style was just doing it for me. Yes, I was at work at the time. And my office-mate was suitably astonished. And also perplexed when I explained that I was reading an amazing poem and I could not contain my enthusiasm.

So, it pains me to no end when I settle down to read what seems like a promising entry on a newly discovered blog and the first sentence has wrong spelling or some grammatical errors. Especially when the writer terms himself or herself as a Writer. You know, a writer with a capital W. The ones who Write write.

I am guilty of being one of those who then go ahead and post a polite note, pointing out the errors and hoping that I don’t get a lashing back because most people would probably take offense at having their writing/grammar corrected. I mean no harm, really. It just does not sit well with me when I am trying to read an article and there is wrong spelling or grammatical errors all over. It really distracts from the point of the article. This is one of the reasons I stopped watching CNN. Their news ticker at the bottom seemed to always have a mistake, whether it was grammatical in nature or geographical (they identified Niger as Nigeria in a recent story, and a google search for ‘CNN spelling mistakes’ leads you to a treasure of head-scratching moments.

I love Grammarly.com (find them on Facebook as well) because they know my pain. That intense heartbreak that comes from expecting the best (and the most proper) writing from different people. I suppose we all know that the English language is slowly disintegrating. Like a former child star fallen on hard times, it is becoming a shell of its former self. And those of us who do not use spell-check, double-check our use of grammar and simply ignore the rules of English as a language are the ones feeding the crack into the vein of the English language, ripping it apart with our misuse of certain words (there is no X in ‘especially’ and ‘supposably’ is NOT equal to ‘supposedly’) and blatantly ignoring the cries of help from a fading lexicon. You see it everywhere. From billboards towering over us with misspellings galore to television ads that just do not do the English language any justice whatsoever.

That said, I cannot claim that my English or that my writing is perfect. However, when I write, I do make an effort to ensure that my spellings are correct and that I have used grammar in an appropriate manner.

Like Grammarly put it, quoting William Raspberry:

From Grammarly.com. Find them on Facebook. #grammarly

From Grammarly.com. Find them on Facebook. #grammarly

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