Friday, July 30, 2010

A quandary of left vs right

“You better not never tell nobody but God…” is a prompt with which the members of my writing group challenged each other. Four minutes to write on whatever this quote brought up for each of us. My group, creative souls all, explored childhood memories and secrets held only between themselves and their deity. Not me. I had a problem.

You see the quotation is a triple negative.

I spend my days proofreading the written work of my students, those whom I can correct, and getting frustrated at published writers, those whom I cannot correct, on precise grammar – double negatives, split infinitives, misuse of apostrophes, the list goes on. And now they give me this, a triple negative, the product of some philistine dialect, or perhaps an attempt at the re-creation of the voice of what I assume to be a down-trodden yet winsome child from an unknown distant backwater, far removed from the pillars of a classical education.

Does this mean “only tell God”, or “never tell God”, or “tell everyone including God”, or “tell no one except God”? My logical rational left brain deduces the last of these. My free-flowing creative right brain is screaming at me to end this pompous nonsensical drivel and to get myself in the mind of this God-fearing secretive child’s voice and to bare his or her innermost turmoil to share with my ever-patient group.

That would be a better plan. Next time, I’m going to let my right brain prevail, split infinitives and all.