This month is the 40th Anniversary of me getting my first article published! In those past forty years I have had over 450 articles, four novels, a dozen novellas, two non-fiction books and dozens and dozens of Blogs for clients published! And, that doesn’t even include all the articles that have been published at www.godsgoodnewsgazette.com in the past year or so. Yes, God has Blessed my writing career!
However, this Blog is not about my success, it is about my struggle. I am sharing all of this as a word of encouragement to others who may be facing some of the hurdles that I encountered and overcame, hoping that they can find the strength to “carry on” ‘til they, too, reach their goal.
Let me start by saying that one of the things that delayed my success was what I discovered to be a prevailing lie that “they” all told me: You can only write about what you know about. Now, you may be thinking, like virtually everyone else was apparently thinking, “Floyd, how can you write about something you don’t know about?” Well, here is, perhaps, the number one “secret” to my success: You can write about anything that interests you because there is somebody out there who knows about everything!
With no fear of exaggeration, two thirds of the articles that I have had published were on topics that I knew little, or nothing!, about. For example, I wrote for CESSNA for over twenty years and have never owned, worked on, or flown an airplane. BUT . . . I did know how to locate aviation experts, interview them, and create provocative articles that pilots would want to read!
Another thing that I battled with was the ironclad rules of Grammar. You see, my opinion has always been that Grammar should be a tool, not a dictator. As you undoubtedly know, down through the centuries such has not been the case! With no aptitude for languages, foreign or domestic, this presented a real problem for me. As many musicians cannot read music but “play by ear” instead, I found that I could be more than a little bit successful by writing by ear. I was able to accomplish this by being a voracious reader for the most of my life. I know what “sounds right” when I write, and it has served me well.
Now, I do have the hang of the rudimentary basics, such as “tense” and pronoun usage. My problem was, I often wondered why grammar was so difficult in the first place. As I prepared for this Blog, I made a startling discovery: Those who structured English Grammar wanted to prove that it could be as difficult to master as Latin Grammar. Compounding that was the fact that it was created for “learned, privileged adult males,” which, in a way, meant that it was to further the concept of separation of the classes.
When I was asked to teach an English Class at AMERICAN INDIAN BIBLE COLLEGE I agreed to do so, with the understanding that I wouldn’t teach Grammar OR Gramper! It was agreed that would be acceptable, and I proceeded accordingly.
Once I found editors who would actually work with me, I faced another challenge. You see, I like to let my readers know what I think needs emphasizing as they read. I do this through the use of Capitalization, Italicizing, Underling and Bolding – – or a combination of the four. Well, this introduced me to what I consider yet another villain – The Chicago Manual of Style! If you go to https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/chicago_manual_of_style_17th_edition.html you will read: “The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) covers a variety of topics from manuscript preparation and publication to grammar, usage, and documentation and has been lovingly called the “editor’s bible.” The material in this resource focuses primarily on one of the two CMOS documentation styles: the Notes-Bibliography System (NB), which is used by those in literature, history, and the arts. The other documentation style, the Author-Date System, is nearly identical in content but slightly different in form and is preferred in the social sciences. Interestingly enough, down through the last four decades I have actually found a number of editors who “let me get away” with doing it my way. Now, I am not a strict adherent to Frank Sinatra’s MY WAY, BUT, I do like to express things the way I deem prudent.
At this point I want to point out that the rationale behind my anti-Grammar, anti-Chicago Manual of Style is not simply me being obstinate and unreasonable. In fact, quite the opposite is true. It is my heartfelt contention that the emphasis placed on these two guides has presented many a good story teller from putting their thoughts to paper. Just as time has proven that the only thing an IQ test measures is one’s ability to take IQ tests, I believe that we are discovering that so much emphasis is placed on presentation that we are scaring off those who might have fantastic content!
I so strongly believe this that when I created GOD’S GOOD NEWS GAZETTE (www.godsgoodnewsgazette.com), one of the underlying pillars of structure was that when articles are submitted for publication, content will over-ride presentation. When we “edit” those articles submitted, we tend to concentrate on proper tense and proper spelling and that is about it! We feel that it is your story to tell, and that you chose the words and phrases you wanted to use to tell it.
You may be wondering, “Floyd, ain’t you afraid that when folks read these articles they will think that the editorial staff is dumb and/or unqualified for the positions they hold?” Well, I have to be honest, I don’t care what “folks” think! What I do care about is what God thinks! You see, I don’t want to be held accountable on Judgement Day if God should ask: “Floyd, I had one of my children send you an article to be shared with all your readers. Why did you change what they had to say?” You see, I adhere to Proverbs 16:7 – When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Well, there you have it – the story of me being a Literary Maverick. I am not suggesting that you become one, too, but I will repeat what I believe to be the key phrase in this Blog: Grammar should be a tool, not a dictator!