Tricky little apostrophes

The following information will benefit everyone who writes anything, not just those who write for publication. It will help you when you write those company reports, memos and presentations. You do want to look as if you know what you’re talking about, right? It will help when you write a note to your child’s teacher; that’ll show her/him they’re not the only one with an education! Everyone who has to read the words/song lyrics from your power point, and has a rudimentary grasp on the English language, will thank you.  (All right, the last one may just be for me. Stop driving me crazy!) I’m sharing this information as a public service in the interests of clarity in communication, and not because I’m a grumpy old Grammar Nazi. 1. Your/you’re:  (a) Your = belonging to you.  (b) You’re = you are. (a) Is that your bike? = Is that the bike belonging to you? /  Leave your plate there. = Leave the plate belonging to you, there. (b) Tell me why you’re here. = Tell me why you are here. /  Lord, you’re beautiful. = Lord, you are beautiful. “Lord your beautiful” is an unfinished sentence. When I read that my brain screams: “Your beautiful…what… is/did/should what?” Please, stop the torture. 2. Its/it’s: (a) Its = belonging to it. (b) It’s = it is. Now this is a little tricky because we all know (nod your head and smile knowingly) that we usually require an apostrophe to imply ownership; eg: Mary’s bike; people’s opinions. However, in this case we must make an exception to the rule. Why? Well, if we used the “ownership apostrophe” we’d end up with the other word! (a) Its cave is nice. = The cave it lives in is nice. / Its time is up. = The time it had is over. (b) It’s a nice cave. = It is a nice cave. / It’s time. = It is time. You can see how a simple apostrophe can change the meaning of the sentence. Isn’t this fun? 3. Who’s/whose. (a) Who’s = who is   (b) Whose – belonging to who. This is a variation on the problem raised by the its/it’s dilemma. In this case the solution is provided by a different spelling. What a shame no one could think of anything similar for poor old “it”. (a) Who’s going to the dance? = Who is going to the dance? / I don’t know who’s dancing. = I don’t know who is dancing. (b) Whose party is this? = Who does this party belong to? (Or> To whom does this party belong?) Get these right and you’ll communicate clearly, impress your peers and make a grumpy old bag happy. In a later posting I’ll attempt to tackle those tricky little suckers: commas. I bet you can’t wait for that! Hahahahaaaa haaaa hahahaaaa… Get over it, Wendy. In this world of tweets and texts, no one...

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Self-doubt? Rise above it.

Is it true that we rarely rise higher than our self-doubt? This week I’ve been pondering a statement I found in the manuscript I’m currently editing. The actual wording is: “Few people rise higher than their self-doubt”. When I first read that I thought: That’s so true! That’s deep, man. How often do our fears, our lack of confidence, our doubt, hold us back from achieving our heart’s desire? I can remember, back in ye olde school days, desperately wanting to sing in the school concert but I was too afraid of not being good enough, so I didn’t audition and missed out. Now don’t feel too sad; in later years I participated in numerous musicals and theatre productions. I even sang in a “folk club” in a hotel for a short while! But I confess, any situation in which I’m being “assessed” (I translate as: judged) I break out into a cold sweat, get an attack of the runny-bums and will go out of my way to avoid it. I truly admire those brave souls who try out for televised talent shows and face possible public humiliation. One of the reasons I’m such a late-starter as a writer is that when (back in my early twenties) I screwed up the nerve, hoiked up my loins and finally sent off a submission to a magazine, it was returned with a page-long rejection letter. I took that as the universe telling me: You really aren’t good enough. So I retreated into my cave and merely wrote for my own pleasure. I lived in a country town and had no real contact with any other writer, so I had no idea that a page-long rejection letter was not only unusual, it was downright fabulous. Talk about the “if-only-what-if-why-didn’t-what-could-have-been” blues! However, I did finally take the plunge, signed up for a workshop or two and put myself out there once more. Many of my friends, especially the creative types, have done the same thing. They’ve decided that their passion for what they do is stronger than their fear of failure and the pain of rejection, and they keep on keeping on. And well done, everyone! Back to the statement: Few people rise higher than their self-doubt. I understand the sentiment but I think it’s not correct. Many people do rise higher…etc. Perhaps it would be better to say: If you want to achieve your heart’s desire/your life’s purpose/your raison d’etre, you must overcome your self-doubt. You must choose to ignore that nasty, nagging, negative little voice in your head until it becomes no more than a nuisance, and a whispering one at that. Hearty congratulations to all of you who choose to face your fears and soldier on. Good on, ya! Well done. Give yourself a big pat on the back (if you can reach – you lucky ducks) and say: I think – no – I know I can! (Okay Wendy, preaching to yourself here so, bum down, head down and get on with...

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Keeping it new.

Week two of January and already the “newness” of the year is fading. That didn’t take long! Perhaps it’s because I’ve begun work again, editting someone else’s book-that-is-about-to-be-published. Once you switch off the Big Fish Mahjong game and begin to think punctuation and dialogue, you know the holiday is over. I never heard back from the publisher who had my manuscript for half of 2011. They didn’t even reply to my email requesting an update. I guess they’re so busy that even a short, “Can’t answer now – too busy”, took too much time to type. I wonder if it’d be rude to suggest they hire typists with a faster word/min ratio? However, I did hear from the agent’s reader. She liked the first three chapters and wants to read the rest. So…fingers, toes and other loose bits of flesh all tightly squeezed and crossed. Maybe this is the year? I’ve already experienced some special moments this year. A couple of friends sent me “just because” gifts that were both thoughtful and extremely generous. The Old Boy and I had the chance to catch up with old (long-time) friends, whom we hadn’t seen in a very long time. When we were with them it was as if there’d never been a time apart. I love that feeling. It’s like slipping on some comfy shoes and saying, “Ahhh!”.  And our friends-down-the-road invited us down to their house for a meal.  We were delighted to find they were giving us another Christmas dinner. Even though it was nearly two weeks into January they’d decorated the dining room with candles and Christmas decorations; there was a present for each of us from Father Christmas next to a miniature tree; we had turkey and ham and all the trimmings, and we even had Christmas bonbons and wore those silly paper hats. It was BRILLIANT! Some how revisiting Christmas in January made it even more special. Just this week I had a movie date with my son (in his 30s) and a lunch date with a teenage girl from our church. I felt privileged and humbled that they would want to spend time with me, and to tell me some of their personal “stuff”. My time with them made me appreciate the good things about having lived a reasonable amount of time, while also making me realise what I’ve already lost. I wish I could have the years ahead of me that they still have, while keeping the experience and understanding about life that I’ve already gained. I don’t usually do new year resolutions; I still haven’t fulfilled the ones I made back in 19mumblemumble. And, already the diet I started last week has been shot to all heck. However, I’m going to give it a go. This year I’ve decided I’d like to try to keep that sense of anticipation that I felt on New Year’s Day – that lovely fresh-page feeling – going all year. Every new day is a fresh beginning. Each new day is a present waiting to be unwrapped. (Let’s go. Paper fight!)  ...

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2012, here we come.

Hello world! Did you all enjoy seeing in the New Year? For me, the start of a new year reminds me of when I was in school, opening up a brand new exercise book full of blank pages ready to be filled. Ah the anticipation! What shall we scribble on the pages? What little gems of wisdom; what delightful sketches of friends old and new; what hilarious incidents to immortalise in print…? It’s all open before us, with that brand new smell and all the potential in the universe at our fingertips. I just hope I don’t add too many smudges, rips and ink blots. The Old Boy and I saw in the New Year with a few friends, sitting on a deck under a tree full of twinkling fairy lights, sipping tasty beverages, eating corn chips and dips and waving glow sticks. We talked and laughed, sipped our drinks, then talked and laughed some more. Quite a pleasant, civilized and relaxed way to farewell the old and welcome in the new. During the conversation I discovered that one of my friends knew some people I was friendly with (a rock band: just a local-play-in-pubs-weddings-and-school-dances group), way back in the mumble mumbles, when I was barely in my teens. It stirred up the memory of an incident that has occasionally reared its ugly head to taunt me, down through the years. I had a major crush on one of the band members. I was invited to a birthday party and encouraged by the b/day girl to bring said young man as my date. With great trepidation I asked, he said yes, and – woo hoo – we went to the party. He was then snatched away in front of my eyes by b/day girl’s best friend. I was asked to “make-do” with the jezebel’s discarded boyfriend. I left the party, shattered, disillusioned and confused. I didn’t blame the lad: we weren’t officially an item and the girl was very pretty. However, I was hurt by the complete disregard for my feelings. I felt used and betrayed by the b/day girl. I told her I fancied the lad and she said, “Why would he want you when he could have her?” Why indeed? Anyway, I’ve never forgotten it and it still had the power to wield a little pain. Then, talking about the rock band with my friend on New Year’s Eve, I suddenly realised I couldn’t remember the guy’s name! Why should I allow this memory to haunt me? “Should auld acquaintance be forgot…?” Sometimes, YES. As for the b/day girl/the betrayer, our “friendship” faded away within months after the party. So, brrrpppp! to her, as well. There, I shake the bad memory from my mind once and for all. Now, beginning the year with the diagnosis of cancer isn’t the best way to start off but there are worse things. Even the diagnosis made me chuckle: I have breast cancer in my rib! Isn’t that odd? Anyway, according to my doc, if there is any sort of cancer to get then I’ve got the best kind: non-aggressive, extremely localised, and controllable with medication. Okay, it’s not curable, but there are plenty of other things that could take me out first: earthquake; tsunami; mountain-climbing; sky-diving; an attack by feral mutant ninja turtles… 2012 is the year to make new memories; good memories; happy memories; worth-hanging-on-to memories. What are you going to...

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