Contemplating the Past, Anticipating the Future

The two-faced, Roman god JanusIt’s the ancient, two-faced Roman god Janus’s time. It’s time for me to look at what has happened during the past year and to look ahead to what can happen in the New Year.

A Look Back

This past year, I have followed some exciting writing and editing paths. By completing my master’s degree in professional writing, I immersed myself in different ways of writing, investigated the nuances of rhetoric, and created written products. Like a kid in a candy store, I got to stretch my skills and think about how changing media alters written communication.

One of the best things I did in 2014 was to start this blog. For many years after I left the newspapers, I didn’t have the opportunity to write as often, in such volume, or about such a variety of things. I forgot how much fun it was and didn’t realize how much I missed it. I thank everyone who follows this blog for allowing me to share my thoughts and information.

Another thing I started doing in 2014 is something I haven’t done in a long time: write fiction. I haven’t done this since I was a child. Right now, I’m not planning to try to sell it or even share it with others. I just want the pleasure of the writing.

A Look Ahead

In 2015, I have ideas and plans in my mind that I would like to make real. As always, much of this includes stretching my writing and editing skills.

One thing I am working on is helping a non-profit organization, which wants to build a community center, write grants to help get funding. We are still in the formation stage determining exactly who will be served and how they will be served. This will help direct where to look for funding. I feel honored to be allowed to use my skills to help out.

I want to improve this blog, to give readers more and better information in a fun way.

I would like to pursue some new, effective teaching methods like flipping grammar instruction and making writing assignments more pertinent to students who will enter trades or non-academic professions.

I want to play with new computer programs, like the Adobe Creative Suite and game generators, to help make some of these ideas possible.

I resolve to remember that not everyone is as wrapped up in good writing and proper grammar as I. I need to tone down my fanaticism a bit.

Most of all, I want to take the talent I have with words and writing to help make my corner of the world a better place.

To everyone out there, may you shake off the dust of the bad things from the past year, build upon the good things, and enter a new year excited about the possibilities.


The Castes of Capitalization

There is a growing number of people out there who seem to think common nouns have a confidence problem. They feel they need to boost these nouns’ self esteem, and they do it by capitalizing them.

We live in an egalitarianCapital society which, in some writers’ minds, carries over into our grammar. (Or should I write “Grammar”?) There is this nagging idea that proper nouns shouldn’t hold themselves above the rest of the parts of speech. Why should English be capitalized and language not? Where’s the fairness there?

The poor common noun only gets to be capitalized at the beginning of sentences or in titles. They just grind along doing their jobs with no chance for recognition. Poor little things…

Oh, come off it! Grammar is not a democracy. Creative capitalization is annoying. Common nouns aren’t supposed to be showy. They are the behind-the-scenes crew while proper nouns are the actors on the stage.

There is a reason all caps is considered yelling in electronic communication. It is annoying to see sentences with too much capitalization.

I went to the Accountant to get my Taxes done, but the Human Resources Department didn’t send me my Forms.

It’s easy to remember that specific nouns are proper nouns and, therefore, capitalized: Introduction to American History (not the History class), November (not this Month), or the Mona Lisa (not the Painting).

On the other hand, we have people who think acronyms shouldn’t be capitalized. Okay, laser (for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”) and scuba (“self-contained underwater breathing apparatus”) have wormed their way into regular use. They are the exceptions.

It’s confusing to use “Aids” when Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is meant. I’m sure the professional stock car group would rather be known as NASCAR, not nascar. Using fbi makes the bureau look, well, feeble.

There is no need to capitalize the common noun. They understand that they are the rock upon which their showier brethren, the proper nouns, can strut their stuff.