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Writing on Hubpages when English is your second language

Updated on October 23, 2012
Littré Dictionnary edition 1889
Littré Dictionnary edition 1889 | Source

I started writing short stories and other inconsistancies some twelve years ago. I wanted to write for the longest time, but like everyone else, I had to put my ducks in a row. The opportunity knocked after a particularly bitter divorce, when I needed some kind of "therapy" to take my mind away from the grim reality of life. It worked. I got hooked on a new power ! I could create characters, make them live, make them love, make them die as I wished. I could mix up some personal experiences with completely fictional stories. I could mix characters from different eras. I could go completely nuts and write whatever I wanted. The sky wasn't even the limit ! All I had to do was decide, and off we went. Overnight, I had become a magician, and a happy one too, and there was no going back from there.


The thing is, I obviously started to write in my native language, which is...French. I know, I know, I've heard it all. We've been called traitors, we temporarily lost the privilege of our French fries (which by the way, are a Belgian invention !). Being part of the European community, we've also been called Urines . So to show you that I don't hold a grudge, I'm going to tell you the best French joke I've heard this side of the Atlantic, and this one was told by a English friend of mine ;

Seen advertised in a newspaper : For sale : World War II French rifle, never fired, dropped once.

Well, the way I see it, you can only laugh at someone else if you practice some self derision too. Back to writing ! A few months ago, a friend of mine, a real writer, a journalist, columnist, poet and author who actually writes for a living, introduced me to Hubpages and he showed me some of his hubs, and how the whole thing worked. He encouraged me to join, which I did not, thinking that HP was not an entity aimed at inexperienced amateurs like me. I suppose out of frustration, and I'd like to think because he somewhat believed in me, he set up an account for me, picked up my pen name, etc, and then he told me :"you're all set, go write something !" Since, for obvious reasons, Hubpages does not allow writing in languages other than English, I was standing against a wall. So, I tried. I bashfully started publishing a couple of short poems and I got some encouraging response. They say, there's no better way to learn how to swim than by throwing yourself in the deep end of the pool. Well, I don't know about that, but shortly thereafter, I began to write my first short story in English, and to my surprise the words started flowing quite easily. Needless to say, I work with the permanent help of a dictionary that I use both to check the definition of a word, as well as its spelling. The grammar is still difficult to me, and I'm sure a lot of my writings are imperfect in that regard. I also have trouble with the who, whom and whose, I never know wich one is right. And a few other things. But, over the months, I gained some confidence and managed to write a couple of pieces that generated praise I would never had thought possible four months ago. Of course, I'm aware than everybody is nice, and I need to take everything with a grain of salt, but still, it's been an enlightening experience so far, so I'll keep writing in English, for as long as there will be somebody to read me, or as long as I live, whichever comes first.

Overall and so far, my experience with Hubpages has been nothing but satisfying. I also got to get acquainted with other people's writing, and for this HP is a treasure trove. I've read stories I could not put down, I've read poetry that brought tears to my eyes. I've salivated reading some recipes, and I have spent way more than a reasonable amount of time here.

I read somewhere that Ernest Hemingway's original handwritings were sloppy, and that without the help of a good editor, he may never have been published. Of course, I'm no Hemingway and I'll never come even close, but I used this example to illustrate that maybe it's acceptable to write imperfectly.

A heartfelt thank you to all of you who have been generous and kind enough to post comments, and to the anonymous ones who voted up or awesome, beautiful, interesting and most generally, my gratitude goes to everyone who took the time to read something I wrote. You make my day, everyday and I am happy and proud to be a small part of this community...

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    • austinhealy profile imageAUTHOR

      Bernard J. Toulgoat 

      5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      Oui oui, merci mon ami !

    • profile image

      scriber1 

      5 years ago

      Vive la difference...

    • austinhealy profile imageAUTHOR

      Bernard J. Toulgoat 

      5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      On the contrary, you made me realize something I wasn't aware of, and as mentioned in my profile, I always welcome someone else's opinion. I welcomed your suggestion, otherwise I wouldn't have acted on it. And yes, I do plan on writing more stories, there are several in the works.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I hope I didn't seem critical by mentioning the paragraphs' length. The story itself is actually quite wonderful, and I enjoyed it immensely. I hope you keep writing fiction, as you're obviously talented in that regard.

      Jaye

    • austinhealy profile imageAUTHOR

      Bernard J. Toulgoat 

      5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      Jaye, Thank you for pointing out the length of paragraphs ! First thing this morning, I took care of that at least for that particular story,. I also know that quite often, I write too long sentances and I'm fighting it. I believe that not everything has to be said in a story, it's not a police report. However, details in my opinion is what makes a story credible and I always work on that carefully. Apparently it works for that story and it creates the illusion of reality when obviouly and thankfully, it's a work of fiction. Thank you for your kind words, very much appreciated.

      Best regards, Austin

    • austinhealy profile imageAUTHOR

      Bernard J. Toulgoat 

      5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      Hello again Becky. Like you, I only use slang when I feel it absolutely necessary. Thank you for comforting me about my writing. I have to say I sometimes feel a little insecure about it because I know I will never speak English as well as my native language, but I'll keep trying

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Your writing is quite good for English to be your second language, and your story-telling is excellent. (I just read "The Power of Two.") The only thing I noticed that seemed out of the ordinary is that you have very long paragraphs, but there are other writers on HubPages, including those for whom English is their native language, who don't break their writing into enough paragraphs.

      I noticed that you've written short fiction in parts, or a series, which is something I'm currently doing. The parts serve as episodes, or chapters, of a longer work. I plan to read yours, beginning with "The English Woman Across the Street."

      I also look forward to reading more of your work. Whatever your reason for beginning to write, you obviously have talent for it and should continue. I'm glad you're enjoying it!

      Voted Up++

      Regards,

      Jaye

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I thought I saw a hint of that in your writing. I don't see much and it is really unnoticeable by most. More a different way of punctuating and getting the point across. It is interesting though. Your writing is very good and your English is not bad. Not much different than American, just less slang. I try not to use slang when I am writing anyway unless it is crucial to a story. It can be so regional and then you have to explain the slang to everyone. I try to write so that nothing needs explained.

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