I've always thought of myself as a good writer. As a kid, I hated grammar and paid as little attention to English class as possible, but I also read voraciously and wrote for fun. I wrote everything - short stories, poetry, abortive attempts at novels, essays. I wrote essays for fun. I studied vocabulary for fun. I'd usually go through my vocabulary workbook by the end of September and then spend the rest of the year making up my own vocabulary lessons that no one ever wanted to do.
Basically, I was a little geek until you planted me in front of an English workbook and told me to diagram sentences, at which point my Love of Learning evaporated in a sad little puff of smoke.
Also, I don't do things I don't want to do, as a general rule, unless you offer me money. And no one did that in fifth grade. So I never really diagrammed any sentences. I did develop what I believe is a decent ear for English and a very natural, thoughtless approach to writing. That approach served me well enough throughout my school career and into work -- despite the fact that I struggle to recall what the difference is between an adjective and an adverb.
But I've been realizing lately that's not enough. Two people recently critiqued two different pieces of my writing where I used 'laid' when I should have written 'lay'. Reading 'Reasoning with Vampires' (which, besides being snarky as hell, is also pretty educational) has made me wonder about my indiscriminate use of commas (the comma is never wrong!) and perhaps excessively enthusiastic love of the em-dash. And, well, the parentheses. If you read my blog, you probably know how I feel about parentheses (LOVE! I'd make sweet love resulting in baby (parentheses) if I weren't already married).
I want to be more than a good writer. I want to be a great writer. That might mean breaking rules of English composition on occasion, but it should be deliberate, not because I write the way I talk.
So I have some studying to do. But seriously?
I'm still not diagramming any sentences.
33 minutes ago