I find a lot of times in the Blogosphere people are passing around a lot of Haterade. Though most of the comments left on my articles are positive and encouraging, I do get some nasty ones, every so often. Under my most recent article, “Confronting My Rapist,” one person wrote the following:
“This is a tremendous step in your life, and I applaud you for it. But lady, your grammar is horrible. Pronoun-an tecedent agreement errors, run-ons. You get paid to write? I wish I could write this poorly and get paid for it.”
There are so many things that are wrong here. First of all, there is the insensitivity factor. I wrote an article about confronting someone who raped me and this person has such little respect for people in general that he feels that a post about confronting my rapist is an appropriate place to air his grievances about my grammar. Obviously, he is trying to knock a survivor of rape, whom he has never met down a few pegs. (In case you were wondering) he didn’t succeed. I actually just rolled my eyes because people have said worse to me and I know that these types of comments are often the nature of the Blogosphere due to the blanket of anonymity one can easily hide behind.
What truly struck me about this was the insult itself. What he said is absolutely correct. I have horrible grammar. I cannot spell to save my life, and to be honest with you, I’m not even sure what an antecedent is. The run-ons, however, I consider my signature. He ends his small rant with, “I wish I could write this poorly and get paid for it.”
I don’t know what this individual does for a living or if he is successful or even happy. I do know that he is missing the point. Before I dropped out of art school, I had the most awful professor you could possibly imagine. He was a graduate student who was just out of college. He was extremely full of himself and a total jerk. One day he instructed our class to go out and “spend our parent’s money” on the most expensive paint brushes we could get our hands on— the ones that cost $18 each.
There was so many things wrong about what he said that I don’t even know where to start. For one, not all of us had pockets stuffed full of our parent’s cash, myself included. Many of us had loans. More important was this question: would buying an $18 brush made with horse or pig hairs— or whatever it is made of that makes it cost $18— really improve our art work? He seemed to think so.
Students don’t really need professional-grade paint brushes or materials. Neither do professionals for that matter. It is not necessary to buy the best supplies, unless you are selling your work for thousands of dollars, and even then it wouldn’t improve the quality of your work. It is true that more expensive materials, like paints and canvas are often designed to better preserve your work, and keep the colors vibrant for years to come (and if you have art patrons paying you thousands for each piece, you should probably use professional grade supplies).
Anyways, when he said this, I looked at him like he was crazy, as I often did because of his frequently arrogant commentary. For one, I had been using the same paint brushes for over five years. I got them at Walmart for $4 a pack. They worked really well. I even won contests and sold artwork that was created via my $4 Walmart brushes, that when broken down ($4 brushes, 5 in a pack) only cost about 75 cents each. Yup, he was wrong again, just as wrong as the guy who pointed out my terrible grammar.
You can nitpick a person’s work. You can even trick them into wasting their money needlessly on expensive supplies, but if this is the way that you view the world, you are the one who is mistaken and clearly missing the point. I may have terrible grammar and even worse spelling, but I’m pretty sure that the people who appreciate my work were not initially attracted to it because of my sentence structure (boring, yawn). I know what brought them to me and what will possibly keep them interested in my work in the future: my heart.
I put my heart into everything I do and that could be lethal (for me) at times. Whether it’s relationships, friendships, or writing, I put everything I have into it. This concept is something my grammatical critic and art professor could never understand. They are too busy living by the rules of what they and others in society think they should be doing. I have never taken the safe road and have only followed the bare minimum when it comes to rules and laws; you know, the important ones, the ones that keep you from getting hurt or arrested. All the other rules, if I am not busy ignoring them, I’m breaking them. I have always hated grammar and spelling because by nature they are structural to the point of bordering mathematics. All those things I hate, but I love writing.
It is not my grammar that makes people want to read my writing or the paint brushes I use that entices people to purchase my artwork; it is what I have bared on those pages and canvas; it is the very thing that cannot be learned from a grammatical text book or bought at an overpriced art supply store. It is more expensive than a handful of $18 brushes and more complicated than the entire elementary school grammatical curriculum. It is very, very expensive, in fact, so expensive that it is unlikely that my old professor and new critic would ever be able to afford it. It is too risky for people of their caliber to stop caring about what they and others think they should be doing, and to just do whatever they want, to say what ever they want, to even think whatever they want and follow their hearts; their deepest desires. They feel safer with structure. I can see why, but a safe and stable environment like theirs comes with a huge cost: constriction. They are confined to a small cage while those of us, who have chosen to follow our hearts have an entire world to flutter around and explore.
My critic, my teacher, only see what is missing, but I see things as whole. The price of the brush does not make the artist. The grammar does not make the writer. You must look past the physical, the brushes, paints, and spelling and see the invisible, the feelings and inspiration uplifting writing and inspirational art can evoke; this is where the heart lies.