Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?
Hooray, an easy one! I use zero, zip, zilch which is why my grammar is often so atrocious. But I DON’T CARE, because it’s mine. I own it and I’m proud of it. I have no grammar books in my library, although I did purchase a Harbrace hybrid in college to refer to when needed. It disappeared a long time ago.
As an undergrad Lit major, my alma mater required that we take “advanced grammar.” It was the most difficult course I’ve ever had in college — EVER! It was a hundred times worse than any math/science class I’ve ever taken. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the instructor hadn’t been such a mean old biddy. She was about a thousand years old and had a nasty temper. She had a conniption fit one day over some pop quiz that we’d all failed and got so worked up that she started to choke and turned bright red and had to leave the room. I think we were all secretly hoping that she’d die.
We got a study group together because a bunch of us were all freaked out about the course. Luckily for us, one of the members of our study group was a total genius, and she showed us how to correctly diagram sentences, and how to use her mnemonics to remember all the rules (thanks, Suzanne)! It was our saving grace. Doesn’t it seem funny that none of us, except Suzanne, knew how to diagram sentences? I was never taught diagramming in school. Were you?
I have one more admission to make before I go. I cheated on the final. Suze had helped me make it through the mid-term, but I had a “D” in the course, and I knew that a comprehensive final would be too much for me to handle. I feigned illness and took the final a few days after everyone else. I made a bunch of crib notes and took the exam seated at a desk around the corner from my grammar class. Nobody was around, so I ended up getting a “B” on the final and a “C” in the course.
I’m not proud of this, but I kind of feel like I did the right thing. If I had failed the course (and at my school, “D” was failing), I would’ve had to take it over again. The same instructor would be screwing with my head because she was the only “advanced grammar” teacher on campus. Hell, I’d probably still be there today, listening to the old biddy squawk and trying to figure out why I can’t use certain past participles in declarative sentences.
It was the only time I ever cheated in college, unless you count the times that I lied to my “man of the moment” in order to sneak around and go out with someone else. That doesn’t count, does it?