It has been well over 10 years since I started a weekly newsletter for my readers which is free and primarily tells the stories behind the stories I write, as well as a weekly insider’s look at the tales I don’t write in this column.
For the most part, it is loved by the subscribers and, mostly, they appreciate the hours of work that goes into it. It is truly a labor that has tens of thousands of subscribers, some of whom are homebound and truly grateful for the weekly visits we have. I take this newsletter seriously, though it generates no income, and I consider it a necessary part of my workweek. At the end of every epistle, there is a notice that there will be mistakes which will underscore how human I am.
Still, this does not keep the occasional grammar authority from writing to correct me. This, of course, gets them immediately unsubscribed from the list.
Recently from Bogart came this haughty correction. I shall paste exactly as it was written:
You claim to be a ‘top notch’ journalist, but you had better be more astute with BASICS....
This article is dated May 25 2015
.....see anything wrong?
I am a detailed person, proud graduate of UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA GRADY SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM....I am a particular proofreader among other communication attributes, DETAILS, my dear, DETAILS !!!
As you can see, this excellent proofreader with a degree from UGA failed to proof her own work. My name does not have an “h” in it (my full name was just above the date she criticized), she hit the caps one too many times, and there should be a period not a comma after “attributes.” I was not mad. I was gloriously entertained. I am still laughing about it.
The following week, a gentleman from Bishop sent this reprimand:
“Bless your heart…”
Gentle love and admiration calls me to share with you that one does not “lay” in a hammock. “Chickens lay eggs; people lie down.” Dale was lying in the hammock. Let’s not give Yankees any ammunition.
This came from a story I told in the newsletter about my NASCAR days when Dale Earnhardt would sling up a hammock in the back of the 3 transporter and nap or hold court there. Now, though I don’t always act like it, I have a fairly good education paid for by the sewing hands of my mama. I have two bachelor degrees and a minor in English. I know the proper use of “laying” or “lying.”
But when I tell stories, I tell them in the vernacular of my people. I use our language like “knowed,” “see’ed” “fixin’” and if the person would have said “laying” instead of “lying,” that’s what I write. Earnhardt said “layin’ in the hammock.” To him, “lying” was an untruth and something he hated mightily. Though he dropped out of high school in the ninth grade, he was an American icon when he died and making over $20 million dollars a year. The bank president where he deposited his money didn’t care if he said “laying” instead of “lying.”
One of my dearest friends is brilliant. She graduated valedictorian or salutatorian in every class from elementary to college. One of her favorite words is “irregardless” even though there is no such word. I have never corrected her.
She used the word recently then stopped. “Did you know that’s not a word?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“I didn’t until someone corrected me. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because you’re smarter than me. I’m in no position to correct a valedictorian.”
And yes, I know it’s “smarter than I am.” But it’s my vernacular. And unless you’re really smarter, please don’t correct me.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of the upcoming book: “Mark My Words — A Memoir of Mama.” Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter. Her column appears Tuesdays.