The curse of being both a teacher and a writer is that there is a very strong possibility a person will be turned into a Grammar Cop. Before I became a writer (many years ago!), I loved getting lost in books, in the worlds that clever authors created. I still love it, but now I am constantly assessing the writing, admiring how another writer came up with an idea, or wondering why they wrote a story in a certain way.
Listening to books on CD is a great thing to do on long car trips, except I usually have to listen to nonfiction books. Otherwise, I am a danger to other drivers because when something unbelievable happens in the story, usually mysteries, I yell at the narrator, and have even been known to punch the eject button and fling the offending CD into the back seat. Fortunately, no one has been harmed in the performance of my tantrums.
The biggest issue for me, though, is that grammatical errors, spelling and punctuation errors, and typos leap out and shout, “Hey, look at me!” Sadly, this doesn’t always happen for me when I’m editing my own work.
I don’t know if this is true in other English-speaking countries, but we Americans seem to have an obsession with misplacing apostrophes. If the word ends in an ‘s’, the thinking seems to be that it needs an apostrophe, right? Sigh. My dream job is to go around the country with a bottle of correction fluid and a bucket of paint to rid us of misplaced apostrophes.
Years ago, I lived in a town where this was rampant. It was either an apostrophe sanctuary city, or where all apostrophes go to die. They could be found clinging pitifully to long-faded signs, and even peeking out like ghostly apparitions from places where they’d been over-painted. One business in town, a carpet and tile store, really went whole hog on apostrophes. They were on the front of the building, and on both sides of the company truck, but misplaced in a different wrong place. For example: A’s & Gs’ Floor Coverings, A & Gs Floor Covering’s, and A & G Floor Coverings’. As I recall, on that last one, the apostrophe was in a different color, as if the painter couldn’t stand the blank look and came back to add it.
It’s not as though the correct placement of apostrophes is a closely-guarded government secret. I’m afraid that most people simply don’t care – a harsh admission for someone like me who is so eager to correct others.
So what do you think? Am I in danger of needing grammar therapy? If so, where would I go to get it? Maybe I should I do as my kids frequently tell me, “Just chill, Mom.”