Hello and welcome! My name is Jen Finstrom, and it’s wonderful to meet you! I would like to start our conversation here with a story about a name: after that, I’ll tell you something about the ideas behind Grammar Fairy Godmother. Next Monday, in my weekly post, we’ll talk more about grammar (and possibly hats)!
I’m fond of telling people that grammar and fashion are essentially the same thing. That might sound odd, but step back a minute and take a look. It seems to me that grammar and fashion are two things that are often seen to have “rules.” For example, someone might tell you—though these “rules” are changing—not to mix metallics or not to split infinitives. What I think is most important here is to think about why we have now or have once had the “rules” that we do. In fact, I very much prefer the word “conventions.” And since grammar and fashion are two of my biggest preoccupations, I have long wanted to find a way to combine them in a blog, an idea that one of my writing center colleagues (one of the several things I do is tutor in a writing center) suggested to me. When she said grammar and style, I thought she meant grammar and citation style, but she actually meant style as in fashion! That idea has stayed with me, particularly how to talk about conventions rather than rules, and the difficulty that I had with beginning was that I simply didn’t know what to call it. Happily, that difficulty was just recently solved.
The wonderful writing center where I tutor has a yearly awards banquet, and everyone who works there is given a superlative (for example, think of high school yearbooks: “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Best Dancer,” and other epithets of that sort). My superlative was “Grammar Fairy Godmother” because my fellow tutors often ask me grammar-related questions during shifts. I truly could not have been more pleased! A few days passed before I realized that I had found the name for my blog. And I realized two other things as well. One was that I no longer had to feel sad that Grammar Girl was already taken. I get to be a fairy godmother–glitter and frilly skirts! The other was that I now had a perfect Halloween costume. Again, glitter and frilly skirts!
So. Now you know the story of how Grammar Fairy Godmother came to be. Along with conventions versus rules, there is another idea that I want to leave you with and that is empowerment. I am confident that I can help answer your questions and minimize any grammar anxiety that you have. I have great conviction that an understanding of these conventions is empowering rather than restricting–after all, it’s your awesome ideas that are the most important part about what you’re communicating, right? Fashion can be empowering as well, and by that I don’t mean that you have to wear what might be considered in style. While both grammar and fashion may benefit from an awareness of audience, I feel that if you’re wearing clothes and they make you happy, then you’re probably doing it right. It’s that idea of happiness that I think is important. I personally like lots of color as well as lots of patterns and textures–not to mention absolutely oodles of accessories–but I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t make me happy and more confident
And I feel quite certain that confident writers and confident dressers make the world a happier and more interesting place.