The Mechanics of Language, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Fragment


When I was a kid, I had a friend who wrote constantly. Every day—usually prose poetry. This kid knew how to write. He wrote phrases I still remember off the top of my head. Sentences like: “Maybe the future is a firework.” Words that, when strung together, bristled with surrealism and action. But he didn’t know how to write to the standards of Strunk and White.

He left dangling modifiers everywhere, carelessly strewn about like old socks. He spelled “garage” as “grodge,” a transgression that left me horrified. And it was hard for me to reconcile the magical quality of my friend’s writing with the casual blunders he made in every paragraph. Having proper grammar was a way for me, and a way for many others, I suspect, to feel as though my writing was worthwhile. But I had not reached a point where I could write with the freedom and imagination that my friend possessed. 

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I need this reminder.


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