Proof reading and Grammar

Okay, okay, a few days ago (March 4th) was National Grammar Day. I didn't celebrate it.

Deep breath.

I have some ugly confessions regarding grammar.

I kind of suck at it.
Gulp.

I just always have. And I really honestly try very hard to learn otherwise.

Sometimes I feel like an impostor as a writer because I am the world's worst speller and I feel like I make more than my share of mistakes with grammar too. I sometimes find it embarrassingly intimidating to associate myself with so many kick butt writers because of this.

Try my friend, Martha Brockenbrough. She has written a book on grammar, THINGS THAT MAKE US SIC, that I've heard nothing but rave reviews about. I still need to read it (and I plan on doing so soon), but I feel like I need her in my head all the time. I need someone to point out all my stupid mistakes. I just don't see them despite the fact that I try really hard and I've read THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE numerous times (I especially like the Maira Kalman illustrated edition -- I would).

For example, I just sent an email of a professional nature to someone and I used the wrong "it's/its." How many years have I wondered if the stupid its/it's thing will EVER sink in for me? It just doesn't. I ALWAYS have to go check a second or third time. This time I still missed it. It's just not a natural thing for me to notice. Does anyone else have this problem?

I read so many things saying it's something a good writer, editor or agent notices right away. They should. Why don't I? Does this disqualify me from the writing world? Maybe I should stick with my paper and scissors. Artist's don't have to be perfect with grammar, right?

Usually I deal with this using handy tools like spell check and my copy-editor-inclined husband. I NEVER send any mail without having him check for dumb mistakes like using the wrong it's/its. But I can't have him check my every email.

I'm also a perfectionist. Painfully so. So these kind of dumb mistakes sometimes leave me feeling unnecessarily self-conscious. For Pete's sake, it's only an "it's" (when it should have been an its). Oh well. Wound licking done.

I can at least take solace in a different kind of editing. When I'm at my critique group, I may not be the one to catch the wrong use of it's/its. But I kick butt at helping others find the heart in their stories (allow me to toot my own horn, I'm wounded after all). I do. I always feel like I'm floating on cloud nine after my critique group, partially because I always feel like I helped my fellow writers see that special window or door into the very best of their work. It's something I'm very good at and I'm proud of that.

So critique group, you keep an eye out for my dumb apostrophe mistakes, over-used exclamation points or dashes and misplaced capital letters. I'll keep looking for the heart of your stories. And maybe after another decade of attempting to call myself a writer, you'll help me finally have it's/its sink in so that it's automatic and I don't make those stupid mistakes.