The Devils of `Academia’ scott biddulph

The Devils of `Academia’

I was thinking about things I have personally experienced as a writer in terms of fighting the battles to motivate myself to continue to pursue my dream. I’ve learned the mechanics of grammar (although I still make mistakes as any human does). Actually, I’m a bit of a grammar nerd; I study grammar books like some people read vampire novels; however, that won’t make me a great creative writer.
That is to say, a writer has to have some ability to imagine a story and convey that story. A good writer has to have a good imagination, I believe. Even though good grammar makes for good credibility and a better read, it is possible for a great writer to display poor grammar. Let me explain before my grammar Nazi friends—or worse yet—the academic demons attack me.
I have a dear friend who secretly aspires to become a great writer. He has an incredible memory for detail about history and is a walking encyclopedia in that regard. He was asked to be a teaching assistant by a professor in his freshman year of college, which is unheard of because normally a professor will ask an upper class-man to do such a job. If I remember correctly, he did write a period piece once,—a fiction—and it was published in a college journal or something. The story was not only incredibly creative in terms of the plot and other literary attributes, but also, he wrote it in the historically correct vernacular, and it was awesome.
He began to work on another fiction story that soon developed a character that is good enough for a novel. It started out as a short story, or series of short stories, but this character deserves a novel—it’s that good. When he read the stories to me, and explained the overall plot, theme, and direction this story would take—let alone the subject matter the story would cover,—I was in awe of his brilliant idea.
I began to tell him, “You have to write this!” In fact, I would almost demand it every time I saw him, to the point of becoming a bother. When I finally nailed him down about why he hadn’t advanced this story or written anything further, he said he didn’t believe he had the talent to write—meaning grammar.
I sat him down and said to him quite simply, “You have a talent to create fantastic stories—you can hire an editor.”
I have been torn to shreds over the years by academics and bookworms about my grammar. I kept writing. I remember once I wrote a political piece, and a guy from the opposing side of the political aisle called me, and I quote, “An affront to the Liberal Arts.” At the time, that one hurt. He hit my article with “red ink” and made it bleed; however, as I look back today—these experiences made me a better writer in terms of grammar.
I wrote this post today to reach out to the struggling writer, or the aspiring writer, who is quietly wasting time and talent because of fear. As I said, if you have creative talent, you can hire an editor. Editors edit, academics know literature and grammar rules, and creative people write,—which one are you?


  1. I love this Scott! Every aspiring writer needs to read it! I’m no editor, and certainly not an academic! I do have an active imagination and a love of writing! And thanks to you and Marilyn believing in me and giving me an opportunity to write “in public”, I have (for the most part) moved past the paralyzing fear of writing. Thank you!

  2. I was the talented writer struggling due to fear. Two Drops of Ink has and is continually helping me overcome my fears. Now, I Just Write!!!

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