“… the alteration of a word can throw an entire story out of key.” Ernest Hemingway
I have had people criticize my work for breaking conventional rules of writing and grammar. Sometimes, these notes are accurate, and I make corrections. More often, they are given by those who believe themselves superior to the storyteller. These over analytical people are more concerned with picking out the placement of a comma, or a semicolon, than actually understanding and enjoying the story. These stifled-visioned, short-sighted, self-appointed, exalted grammarian gatekeepers would waste a day at the beach examining a droplet of water, while missing out on the magnificent majesty that is the ocean.
On my Amazon author page, I state clearly —
“I’m a storyteller, one who uses the written word to tell tales. I am not a professional essayist nor English professor. My grammar is not always perfect, and my sentence structure not always correct. To me, what is most important, all that is important, is the story.”
I have been contacted by those who would like to edit my work and maintain “My Author’s Voice.” What gives rise to curiosity is — How do you know my voice if you haven’t read my works? If you haven’t gotten to know me? If you don’t know or understand the story I am trying to tell?
Imagine if these anal-retentive, punctuating perfectionist, had counterparts in the art world who exercised their influence over the works of someone like the late great neo-expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat. If you don’t know Basquiat’s work, be open, because to the closed minded, tight-assed, creativity- stomping critic, the genius of his work is completely lost.
If Basquiat had an over-bearing, English professor type bully hovering over his shoulder, what would he have become? Instead of groundbreaking art, what would he have been pigeonholed into creating? If he would have created anything at all!
When I over use commas, it is because I want the reader to slow down and take in a certain part of the story. When I use run on sentences, it is because I want the reader to quicken his or her pace. When, instead of listing things with commas, I use and over use “and” it is because I want the reader to place emphasis upon each idea I am conveying. When I use sentence fragments, it is because at that point in the story, the character is fragmented, and I want to convey that to the reader using the narrative. Instead of telling or showing, I want the reader to experience the story.
For some reason, in the literary world, there are those who not only seek to curtail creative and unique approaches to storytelling, but would flat out deny the author these freedoms. We should take a lesson from Papa, who only allowed editing for spelling, and occasionally for grammar, and insist upon exercising our individuality. Perhaps, no there is no perhaps — use, and never, ever surrender your author’s voice!!!!