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A Brief Reflection on Writing from an Amateur Writer

Updated on January 8, 2014

Hello, kids.

This one is different from my usual hubs, which tend to mostly be about good grammar. I have an editorial quandary, or perhaps I have already made up my mind. I started contributing to hubpages for a different way of publishing. I have certainly enjoyed that process. Yet, as I have read other people on here discuss the landscapes of writing, reviewed published books on the topic, added more writing books to my wish list, and contemplated some of my personal favorites (that are the favorites of many writers), I have come to accept that I am a mere amateur in this game. Thus, I am either taking a hiatus from contributing to this amazing site or putting an end to it. Fear not, my friends and silent readers, I will never stop writing in general.

A short time ago, I decided I would write on a number of topics before wrapping this up. My list of topics has just lay on my desk, begging me to either feed it or put it out of its misery. Twelve broad topics are not focused on grammar. I may (notice I did not add "or may not") approach those some day. Here are the eight broad topics I have decided not to elaborate upon:

  1. Infinitives and Gerunds
  2. Verb Tenses
  3. Active and Passive Voice
  4. Relative, Indefinite, and Reflexive Pronouns
  5. Numbers
  6. Question Marks, Quotation Marks, and Other Punctuation
  7. Count Nouns and Non-Count Nouns
  8. Parallel Structure

I also had two broad areas that extend beyond grammar: literary terms and poetic terms. I leave these to the experts.

I like to at least peruse books on grammar and writing. Here are three I have read (from; I will admit I did not read the entirety of each book) recently.

A New and Expanded Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O'Conner (Riverhead Books, 2003).

The most useful chapter in general is the fourth. It is titled "They Beg To Disagree: Putting Verbs in Their Place." The most useful chapter for me was the fifth, "Verbal Abuse: Words on the Endangered List."

The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (Expanded and Revised) by Karen Elizabeth Gordon (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993).

The chapters here are not numbered. But, the most useful chapter in general is "The Comma." I found "The Slash/Bar/Virgule/Diagonal/Separatix" the most useful.

That or Which, and Why: A Usage Guide for Thoughtful Writers and Editors by Evan Jenkins (Routledge, 2007).

This book is set up in alphabetical order by topic. Here are my 10 favorite sections:

  1. 'Between ... and,' Not 'Between... to'
  2. 'Big of a'
  3. Could/Couldn't Care Less (Pet Peeve #1)
  4. Farther/Further
  5. First Annual
  6. (I Am) Good/(I Am) Well
  7. Lie, Lay, and All That
  8. Myriad
  9. Tautology
  10. Whether (Or Not)

Books on writing are always a fun read. There are myriad lists out there of books on writing. Goodreads currently has a shelf of 932 books about writing! Some are on my wish list, yes. Here are some of my favorites.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (Admittedly, this is a grammar book, but it is an excellent grammar book.)

Bird by Bird: Some Introductions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. This is just delicious.

I would be remiss to not mention the oft-referenced On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (get the Tenth Anniversary Edition!) by Stephen King. (See my love letter, Stephen King: Mostly and Outline of Obsession.)

I know these instructional/motivational/inspirational books will remain as part of my life. I have multiple (not quite myriad) writing projects. All will be well.

Keep writing!

Matt Cogswell


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