Wednesday, October 3, 2007



by P.C. Hernández

[Published in Seasons for Writing, July 2001]

Why do people use an apostrophe when forming plurals? Apostrophes are used to form contractions and to show possessives. That’s it—no more, no less. So why the hang-up with plurals?

In the English language plurals are formed by adding s or es. No apostrophe is involved. The most irritating things I see as I roam around neighborhoods on my daily walk are the cutesy signs people put on their mailboxes: The Brown’s Home. Does only one Brown live there? Of course the sign should read: The Browns’ Home. Or sometimes a sign will say: The Brown’s live here. Naturally, the apostrophe should be dropped.

One of the worst signs that I’ve ever seen was on the door of the typing classroom across from mine: “The typewriter’s are fixed.” Say what? Literally that sign said, “The typewriter is are fixed.” Of course keyboarding is taught instead of typing these days but I have also seen signs that said, “The computer’s are here.”

Then there are advertisements in a newspaper that say: “TV’s for sale.” Literally that means that only one TV is for sale.

So, why is the apostrophe so popular and so misused?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Criticism--A Good Thing

(Previously published January 2002 in Seasons for Writing, a newsletter for writers now on hiatus)

Several years ago I was invited to join a local writers' group and was told to bring something I had written. I very innocently brought an entire manuscript to the meeting. When the meeting started, I was introduced to the members who suggested that since it was my first time with them, I might consider just listening as they read and critiqued their current writings. Then, as I got the hang of what they were doing, I could join in at the next meeting. But I was prepared to share part of what I considered my masterpiece. When they finished their short readings, which consisted mostly of poetry and very short stories, I boldly plunged into mine.

Big mistake! Or was it? As I began reading, I realized they were getting fidgety and losing attention. I finally skipped to the end of the first chapter, concluding with what I thought was a humorous note. A few people chuckled but most seemed relieved that I had finished. Then the criticism began--my beginning needed a hook, the first chapter was too long, I needed to insert more humor, and so on. I began to wonder if they just criticized for the sake of criticizing. Were they trying to scare me off? Surely there would be no point in that.

For the next meeting I read a personal anecdote that was very short and humorous and got quite a few laughs. No one criticized anything. As the meetings progressed, I continued to bring my anecdotes, leaving my novel at home, I noticed that the others, however, were bringing original works that definitely needed outside opinions and they were getting them. The group, as a whole, picked everything apart--it was nothing personal. Finally, I began bringing excerpts from my novel expecting to be critiqued and, indeed, they tore those excerpts apart. But, I learned how important it is to admit the need for critique and how much one can learn from it. At first I didn't want to learn that my writing wasn't perfect the minute I put my words on paper. I loved my creations and felt pain when it was suggested that my carefully chosen words should be either removed or replaced with others. As one lady said, "I don't want anyone to tamper with my writing. Not! I'll do anything the publisher wants or even let the publisher rewrite it himself/herself." Well, to be honest, I wouldn't go that far.

It took me a while to learn that criticism is necessary; it can be a very good and helpful thing.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

On Writing

Welcome to the Island of Palmaltas!

In the following days/weeks/months I will post my thoughts on various subjects such as writing, reading, my travels, food, and whatever comes to mind. I hope that this will be an enjoyable journey.

Thank you so much,
The muse of the Island of Palmaltas