Semicolons for self-help? Aw, c'mon!
But as unlikely as little punctuation marks and other grammatical elements may seem as tools for personal change, author Lawrence Weinstein shows that how we use them can make a big difference in who we are and how we live.
Consider these sentences of a job applicant: "What a great pleasure it was to meet you today!! The position you described sounds absolutely perfect for me!" Such overuse of italics and intensifiers reflects a lack of trust in being heard. By cutting back on those devices--and discovering they aren't needed--a person can begin to increase his capacity for trust in life.
Or consider how passive constructions can obscure agency, as in, "Undoubtedly, mistakes were made." (Yes, but who made them?) And compare, "My parents were the source of all my troubles," with, "I kept upsetting myself by taking my parents' criticisms too seriously." The latter sentence gives up victimhood and takes ownership of one's fate--largely by employing active verbs.
Topics addressed in the book include:
* Grammar to Restore the Ego
* Grammar for Mindfulness
* Tolerating Ambiguity
* Getting Out of One's Own Way
Weinstein used to teach at Harvard, but don't let that intimidate you. Though his book is ultimately serious in nature, drawing on both Western and Eastern traditions, Weinstein's prose is witty, anecdotal, and packed with good, clear examples. He doesn't claim that personal change occurs easily. But, he muses, "For the right person, that mere featherweight, a comma, can alter the course of a day."
"Now that we know we create our own reality with our words and thoughts, Lawrence Weinstein offers us the perfect guidebook for precise and powerful creating. As a writer, teacher and lover of language, I LOVED this book!"
--Jan Phillips, author, The Art of Original Thinking: The Making of a Thought Leader
"Lawrence Weinstein confirms what we literary types have always known in our hearts: grammar equals virtue."
--Anne Fadiman, author, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Lawrence Weinstein taught expository writing at Harvard University from 1973 to 1983 and co-founded Harvard's Writing Center. He is currently a member of the English Department at Bentley College. His book Writing at the Threshold
is a bestseller of the National Council of Teachers of English. A play by him entitled The La Vidas' Landlord
received rave reviews at its world premiere in Dallas this year.