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Posts tagged ‘Shakespeare’

A bizarre treat for the creative type

As a creative person with an interest in writing, music and video along with a sense of humor, I really got a kick out of something a family friend shared with me a little while back. It is a Youtube phenomenon known as “Epic Rap Battles in History” with a channel that has recorded more that one billion, yes that billion with a “b” views.

Here are two of my favorites both dealing with legendary writers.

Top Ten Things Your English Teacher Got Wrong

Many of the things we learn in school or in another educational setting we tend to instantly accept as fact. But no matter how reasonable something might seem, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true. This is certainly the case when it comes to some of the “rules” that govern the English language as you may heave been taught to understand them. From the simplest notions of proper grammar to the more complex idea of citing sources in research documents, chances are you have been taught to abide by several of these so-called facts that are either only partially true or downright false.

10. You should always have one or more rough drafts

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that usually one’s first instinct is the most accurate one. This notion of not second guessing ourselves has been around for quite a long time. And recently, scientific study has weighed in on this matter.

In my opinion, this filters over into the practice of writing. While it is necessary to go over your work to correct errors and possibly make some wording and stylistic adjustments here and there, that by no means suggests an entire rewrite. And it certainly does not ensure that multiple revisions will be necessary.

9. Shakespeare wrote in proper English

There is no doubt that William Shakespeare was a brilliant writer with a masterful grasp of the English language. However, the man also “made up” more than 1,700 words. Some of these include the terms “arouse,” “fixture,” “majestic” and “negotiate.”

Imagine if we just randomly began to create our own words for letters, essays, research papers and more. Perhaps we’d even incorporate a bit of modern slang. This certainly wouldn’t be considered proper grammar or writing today and thus it wouldn’t have been in Shakespeare’s day either.

8. You must double space after a period

While in ages gone by when everything had to be hand-written, this was a non-issue. Only since the institution of typing machines (first typewriters and now computers) has this one even come into play.

When it comes to conventional typewriters, the sizes of the letters are slightly different. To compensate for this problem, it became common practice to add a second space after the period at the end of each sentence. But in this computer age, proportional font spacing has all but eliminated the need for double-spacing.

7. You should always use proper grammar

In most case, it is very important to use proper grammar. However, there are some instances in which a writer can bend or even break traditional grammatical rules for any number of purposes.

The famed twentieth-century poet E.E. Cummings provides a perfect example. In his work, Cummings frequently and intentionally used bad grammar to create a more dynamic effect while establishing his own personal style.

In other instances, writers sometimes use poor grammar in the speech of their characters. This is especially true when the author is trying to bring out cultural and ethnic traits such as the use of slang in an urban environment or the feeling of a Southern drawl.

6. You need a comma to separate every instance in a series

Separating small lists of items in a series does not necessarily require the use of a comma after each item. For example, according to many experts and style guides, the use of a comma before words like “and” or “or” to close out the series is actually quite redundant.

For instance, let’s take the list “red, white and blue.” Notice how there is no comma prior to the word “and.” The reasoning is that if we use a comma after the word “white” it essentially amounts to using the word “and” twice.

5. Paragraphs have to have more than one sentence

This is a long-held myth that can be easily disproved. All one has to do is look to the work of legendary author Charles Dickens. His famous novel entitled “A Tale of Two Cities” begins with a single paragraph that is also only one sentence long.

The truth is, as long as it meets the criteria to make a paragraph, there is no set number of sentences the writer must use. It can be as few or as many as her or she wants.

4. There is only one proper way to cite sources

While your teacher may have preferred the use of a particular style in his or her classes, there are actually several ways to cite sources in research papers and the like. Often this varies depending upon the discipline you are researching or studying.

A few of the more common style guides include MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), CMS (Chicago Manual of Style) and AP Style used by many journalistic outlets. There are several others out there as well.

3. Always use a comma after the greeting in a letter

While using a comma after statements like ”Dear Ted” or “Hello Maggie” at the start of a letter is generally correct and seen as good grammar, this is not always the case.

In instances in which you are writing a business letter, the comma should actually be replaced by a colon.

 Commas should be reserved for more informal communication.

When it comes to the use of email, it is generally accepted that either of these two forms of punctuation can be used to fit the bill.

2. You should not shift tenses

Sure, shifting tense for no real reason is poor grammar and makes for poor writing. However, there are some instances in which a shift in tense is appropriate and even required to make things work.

If the time frame of something taking place in your writing moves from past to present, you have to change the tense for both correctness and to avoid reader confusion. The following two sentences provide a simple example. “I was so afraid to get on that bicycle as a young child. Reflecting back on that point in my life, I think it was more about the possible embarrassment of falling rather than getting hurt.”

As you can see, the first sentence focuses on the past and uses the past tense while the second one is amount my reflections in the present.

1. You can’t use “and” to start a sentence

Those who use “and” to start off a sentence have long been ostracized by those entrusted with teaching us the English language. However, this isn’t a criticism that is based in the reality of proper grammar.

While the use of “and” as the first word of a sentence can come across as rather informal and has the potential to make your wording a bit choppy and awkward, it’s not technically wrong. In fact, some language experts suggest that it can actually work better in some case that using more traditional terms like “however,” “therefore” and “furthermore”

Eternal Spring (A Poem)

While I love to use a bit of symbolism in my poetry and almost always want to allow the reader to interpret my writing how they see it, this one is a bit different. It is heavily metaphorical, while also holding some literal meaning and is really meant to mean one thing and one thing only. I also reference two English Renascence era poets in specific lines and phrases. If you’d like a bit of an explanation, please read the notes after the photo below.

Please enjoy.

Eternal Spring

—————————————————

With the winter

All foliage does fade

And decay under the weight

Of frigid air and show

——————————————————–

Everything hides in waiting

Under the soil of the earth

———————————————————

Then comes the spring

And all rises anew

———————————————————

In the grand scheme of the cosmos

The longest winter has seen its end

And the eternal spring has risen

Resurrecting all things to new life

———————————————————–

This eternal spring shall never fade

Even against winter’s bitter sting

As the warmth of the sun’s love

Has truly set all free

Courtesy of Free13k.com

Explanation (or at least partial clues) as mentioned above:

Stanza 1 – “Winter”, the fading and “decay” of foliage and the “weight of frigid air and snow” all have direct metaphorical meanings.

Stanza 2 – The phrase “in waiting” and “under the soil” are representative of a specific state of being.

Stanza 3 – “Spring” and the phrase “all rises anew” also have direct relation to a desired state of being.

Stanza 4 – Thegrand plan” and “the cosmos” refer to a specific entity. The “longest winter” further emphasizes the theme in stanza 1. “Resurrecting” has a fairly obvious connotation in my opinion and the phrase “new life” goes along with it.

Stanza 5 – The phrases “eternal spring” and “sun’s love” again refer to a specific entity. The “winter’s bitter sting” is a metaphor for the cause of the metaphor for winter.

The referencing of the eternal spring “shall never fade” is also a nod to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and the aforementioned “sun’s love” also is a tribute to something in one of  John Donne’s works from his Corona.  Feel free to check them out.

Artists and criticism – don’t take it personally

Everyone wants to be liked…

generally speaking that is. And of course, artists of all varieties are no different. Whether you are a writer or a singer, painter or photographer, whatever the case may be, it’s never easy when someone doesn’t like your work.

But one thing we all have to remember is that for the most part, criticism of our work as artists is not something to be taken personally. While there may be a few people out there who do attack artists on a personal level, my honest belief is that this is vary rare in the grand scheme of things.

As the old adage does, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thus the appreciation or lackthereof  for any kind of art is subjective.

critical

So, in my humble opinion all artists should try to:

1. Avoid becoming defensive or overly sensitive about criticism

2. When possible, use it to your advantage

After all, it doesn’t benefit anyone when an artist turns away from his or her craft. Imagine the loss to the world had Shakespeare given up after his first negative review. But, when you use critical information to your advantage, it can provide another perspective and maybe even convince you to work harder at certain aspects of your craft.

 

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