At work, when I tire of doing finances, editing something for my director, wrapping my head around some uncommented code, or am not getting anywhere with some administrative matter, I pull out my copy of Grammar Girls’ Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing for a breather from work and to read a few grammar usage tips.
I bought Grammar Girl’s first book last year when it was hot off the presses but only just now cracked it open on the eve of starting my first proper technical writing/editing class.
Earlier this year, I took another course in the Technical Writing program and it left something to be desired: I felt that group work was a huge part of the curriculum designed to cut down the instructor’s workload; it was a course about writing for the Internet and I cringed when the instructor struggled to define some web concepts; I cringed some more when the instructor referred to blog entries as “blogs” (no! no! no!); the exam was open-book and dead easy; and not only that, we marked each other’s exams and then all were able to argue to regain the marks we lost.
I was so wary that my second course would be unspectacular and riddled with group assignments… but it’s quite the opposite experience so far.
Sure, you have the usual characters in the class: brown-nosers in the front row and the cool gang in the back row. (Guess where I fit in?) But ultimately we are mostly a dorkish pack dipping our geeky toes into the grammar world – you can tell most people are trying to escape the doldrums of being code monkeys – led by our dorky but admirably intense and competent instructor.
One thing that reminds me of how this is a practical program is the chatter about money – where the money is. It came up several times and I had to blush when we made introductions and I described the part of my job that relates to the class and the instructor interrupted to point out that that is where the money is. I had to stammer that it just part of my job thus my salary is consequently modest. =P
Last week, we practiced interviewing and our first assignment was to write short biographies based on our interview notes. This week, we are learning copyediting symbols to apply them to a light article on stem cell research requiring editing! The week after, we are giving grammar presentations! And we are submitting edits made using a word processor!
Yeah – far be it for me to think I’m losing six weeks of summer when the class I’m taking is about grammar!