Monday, June 25, 2012

Why I Will Die Friendless

A fellow English teacher/friend just started dating a new guy. In her new relationship haze of bliss, she’s been giddily showing me all of his text messages. Judging from the text messages, he seems like a pretty nice guy with a decent sense of humor. I’m super happy for her. BUT … there was one thing I was concerned about.

So I asked, “How do you feel about the fact that he uses U instead of you?” 

(She is an English teacher!)

And she said, “Jenny, it’s a text message. Even I do that. Just not when I text you.”

Oh my god! I am such a pedantic nightmare!

To solidify how obnoxious I am, a couple of days later I was texting with a friend:

Me: You going to see the Galaxy?

(Galaxy, the Los Angeles soccer team)

Friend: I wish you know how I feel about potential space exploration. 

(Friend making a pun about the word galaxy)

Friend: There should have been a comma after I wish. But yes I am going to the game. 

Me: Technically, there should have been a semicolon. Have fun at the game. 

Friend: You can’t even let grammar shit slip on a Saturday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Save the Sundae

“How can a kid look this cute while throwing a tantrum?” 

That was the caption under a photo of Suri Cruise on the ABC News website. Apparently, Suri threw a temper tantrum at FAO Schwarz, a toy store in New York City.

It’s obviously troubling that we are such a celebrity-obsessed society that a 5-year-old’s tantrum makes the news, but what I find even more disconcerting is this comment left by one of the readers: 

Cute? LOL! She looks like exactly what she is: a spoiled brat that owns and rules the whole family. She’ll be a terror as a teen and all the Christian Science intervention won’t make up for the fact that the ‘parents’ allowed this little brat to run her own life. BTW she always DID look ridiculous in those fruitcake high heels…

I am worried about this because if a cute little 5-year-old can’t escape brutal criticism then I am totally screwed.
The fact of the matter is that some people are not going to like my book. They might even write negative reviews about it. I hope I can cope with the criticism and it won’t drive me to drink excessively. (Well, excessivelyer.)

To prepare myself emotionally, I’ve been reading negative reviews about other grammar books. Here’s one about Mignon Fogarty’s popular grammar guide Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

I saw all the great reviews on this book and thought this book must be top-notch. Unfortunately, it's just meh. Mignon (who happens to have one of the worst author names I've ever heard) certainly knows her subject. That being said, she's not much of a teacher. 

Oh my god! Should I change my name? Is Jenny too meh?

I read this quote from Kurt Vonnegut that made me feel a little better: 

“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”

(To be fair, I have attacked a hot fudge sundae, but it was an attack of passion.)

But then I read this other quote by Kurt Vonnegut, and it made me doubt his wisdom: 

“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.”      

Vonnegut is totally off base here. College grads rarely know when to use semicolons.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hell Hath No Fury

I wear a size 7 ½ shoe. Now, let’s say that Johnny Depp announced that he was searching for a bride and vowed to marry the woman whose foot perfectly fit into a size 6 glass slipper (designed by Tim Burton, of course). Would I simply curse my genetic makeup and get on with my life?

Hell no! I’d scrape some bone off the first metatarsal. I’d definitely ditch the distal phalanx of the second toe.  I’d get rid of the pinky toe completely and file down my heel. Then I would paint my remaining toenails black because in 1985 I read in Teen Beat that black was Johnny’s favorite color. 

Manipulating one’s foot to make it a perfect fit for Johnny Depp is a metaphor for what it’s like to go through the query process. Many of you are writers and therefore fully understand the hellishness of querying. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the process, allow me to quickly explain. 

In order to get an agent to represent your book, you must query. First, you must research to find which agents represent the kind of work you do; then you must take hundreds of pages of work and painstakingly whittle them down into a few measly paragraphs that must convince the agent that your work is amazing and a perfect fit for him or her. 

Then, you sit back as rejection after rejection after rejection after rejection roll in. 

One agency that rejected me was the one who represented the diet book Skinny Bitch. I thought we would be a perfect fit because Skinny Bitch, like my book, incorporates a sassy, humorous approach to relatively dry material. And, frankly, I was surprised that they rejected me because people in the United States are much more concerned about their grammatical correctness than their weight, right?

On the one hand, I am glad they rejected me because my agent is rad. On the other hand, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. 

So here’s the thing: yesterday, I read that Skinny Bitch is being turned into a movie. 

Here’s the premise as described in Publishers Weekly:

“A vegan chef loses her job and her boyfriend in quick succession, then finds a new beginning after launching a vegan cooking school and falling for a meat-eating man.”

Now, I feel like I simply must turn my Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares book into a movie. A better movie! A movie that will make that agency regret the day that they tossed my query letter into the recycle bin.

Any ideas for a premise? This is all I’ve come up with so far:

An English teacher loses her job and her boyfriend in quick succession, then she opens up a grammar school and falls for The Situation.