Grammarly, Sound, and Artful Writing

A few months back it felt like all of Youtube’s advertisements were about Grammarly. I absolutely refused to click, because I knew that clicking had nothing to do with whether or not I would see it again. Also, it wasn’t the worst advertisement I had seen. Anyway, all of this background noise bullshit burrowed into my brain and set the grounds for some brand-trust. I wasn’t surprised when I downloaded it as an extension for Google Chrome, and now I’m super loyal to it. What were those user agreement details? Granting them sole ownership of any content I write? To be honest, I really do enjoy Grammarly. I think the best benefit is most apparent when they provide reasoning why my writing is wild and then leaves the final decision in my hands. The traditional school experience of busting your butt on a paper, turning it in, and bearing witness to the red rain of a teacher’s pen is terrifying and author-itative. Did you know Author was in authority?

Anyway, like I do with every life choice, I read multiple reviews before using something and what got me to try Grammarly is that after prolonged use people started noticing consistent problem-patterns in their writing that keep occurring. I can’t wait to discover mine. Previously I depended on to tell me my most obvious patterns, but it was purely technical and the only feature I really paid attention to was the word density. Some New-Age Digital Journalism really cares about that kind of stuff; I don’t know why. Beyond the simple spelling check, doesn’t do much for editing. Not like Grammarly. They mainly do subject-verb agreement and really really basic things on the free version, but it’s still helpful. I sometimes misuse, “to” and, “of,” which probably doesn’t make sense out to context, but it’s not hard of get. (Grammarly did not catch those last two errors, and so I am now seriously doubting its reliability.)

Let’s talk about the point of putting in so much work into writing just so people can pull it apart. Beyond the fact that I love writing and editing, and this is actually *fun*, the point of priority for people centers on who is more important: the reader or the writer. In my schooling, we’ve always praised layered writing. So although I do enjoy when an author imbues meaning on many layers, I wonder if that’s how good writing becomes great, or if that’s just what I was trained to appreciate. I think layering like that is intentional and only appreciated in specific contexts of snobbery. Hidden meanings don’t always tantalize readers, take for example terms of use contracts. That doesn’t stop those contracts from being artful, and it has nothing to do with the layering — in fact, it’s the opposite: their art comes from their simplicity and accessibility.

Does the art of writing come from the crafting or the impact it has on the people reading? When someone is familiar with the author, whether the writing matches the person becomes really obvious, and when the writing is forced, it’s really apparent. For authors unknown, people can tell if it’s forced depending on how consistent the writing is. Like, is this really the author’s voice, or are they putting on a mask? And in instances when one author is using multiple voices, they’re creating a world for the reader to be immersed in, and the question becomes: Is the overall tone of the prose consistent? For me, that’s what matters most. Whether it’s a scientific paper or satire, if the author breaks immersion, that’s what makes something artful for me, and that’s the bar I set for myself. Achieving that milestone might be miles away personally, but I think it’s nice to have found the words and expressed it.

I love songs because they care so much about the sound, sometimes they’ll even give up maintaining meaning in favor of something sweet. No matter how sentences come across, the words carry weight because they’re imbued with something else, the tone, the passion. The momentum is built from the sound filling up and getting bigger and goddamn I love being rolled over by the vivid experience of ephemeral joy. I absolutely love when songwriters make the choice of forsaking meaning to fulfill the sound expectation over the meaning-meaning. That’s the best goddamn choice in the world because it taps into the reality that words are ultimately empty and meaningless and open to interpretation and sometimes we have subconscious expectations that aren’t associated with abstract meaning, instead a sort of sound creates a silo of expectation, and when it overflows, I think that if that’s where my passion is I should keep writing like that, but what do stories that prioritize sound over meaning look like? I love 100% of everything about that question, and I hope to one day create the answer.


But I sit there saying nothing just watching your hands

I wish that I could hold them but I’m not sure I can

But you still are gold to me