Feature image from EMERGINGWRITERS’
Every now and again I come across a truly wondrous thing that seems too good to be true, too perfect for this world. At first it was just the cheesecake brownie I ate one cold night in Korea. Then it was the development of free open-source content management systems such as WordPress. Then it was Sharkbanz, a waterproof electromagnetic shark force field. And now, there is The Good Copy*.
THE GOOD COPY, is a writing studio, a shop and a school. The Good Copy seems like an open writers studio where sometimes there is writing and other times there are parties. They also sell writing materials, books, style guides, journals and print mags. Writers can also sit around in the sunny front room at The Good Copy and work at their leisure, ‘like a cafe that won’t kick you out and you don’t have to buy anything.’
Last night I washed my hair and headed to The Good Copy for an EMERGING WRITERS’ FESTIVAL event called, The Good Copy; Nuts and Bolts.
If you have ever read anything on my blog before you’ll know that GRAMMAR is not my superpower. For a long time I was actually immobilised by my mistakes. I was so scared of writing incorrectly that I wrote nothing. After misspelling the word steroids on my blog few years ago I received some friendly constructive criticism from a man in America. It went like this, ‘STUPID FUCKING CUNT’. Grammar trolls are real. I was frozen with fear.
In 1974 grammar was removed from the NSW syllabus for twenty years. I am part of the GENERATION GRAMMAR FORGOT. Even as I studied a Masters of Education at Sydney University there was never a focus on grammar. At the end of my degree I was released into the world without any clue of how little knew.
Grammar is body language for the written word. Grammar is the physical documentation of a pause, infliction, hesitation, question or tone. Edward T. Hall, a well-recognised social anthropologist, maintained that in a normal conversation more than 65 PERCENT of social meanings are transmitted through the non-verbal channel. In writing, grammar is carrying that 65 percent load.
When I sat down on the long wooden bench at The Good Copy I felt a sinking feeling that I had just walked into a workshop. I had used up all my mental powers reading Google Maps to get me there. I was breathless and spent. I really just felt like being lectured at.
Lucky for me the session was presented by The Good Copy’s creative director MAX OLIJNK and editorial director PENNY MODRA. These two hilarious grammar nerds took care of everything. At no point was I forced to workshop an obscure sentence or read my notes aloud.
The two hour session covered a huge range of material. We started at the beginning with the definition of a clause. I wrote this down. Clause. Then underlined it. We moved quickly through subjects, objects, verbs, compliments, possessives, plurals, lists, apostrophes, commas and modifiers. I could not write fast enough. Towards the end of the session Max and Penny spoke about tone, style and register, ‘dressing for the occasion’.
This session is probably the best thing I’ve ever been to**. After a week of heady nonsense at the Sydney Writers Festival, this was a welcome reprieve. It was actually about writing.
The important message I took away from the session was that language is ours. It exists to serve our needs and we must not confuse language change as language degradation. Mitchell Nadin I am looking at you right now you dirty snob.
*Individual responses to The Good Copy may vary.
**I am quickly realising I probably shouldn’t review anything ever. I am very easily impressed and tend to be very keen to have a good time. Does one need to be grumpy and jaded to review with any kind of insightful sting?