Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

An Obstinate Shaw

Not far from my house stands a beautiful tree.

Its trunk is so gnarled and knotted that no carpenter wants it. And its branches are so tangled and twisted that no one can tell them apart.

But that doesn’t stop us from trying—people love straightening messes. Yet that isn’t to say that we must.

Take grammar for example.

There are so many rules to obey that, if you were to apply them all, they would muddy your point. Rather than letting grammar stiffen your writing, it’s better to liven your prose with your common sense.

Bernard Shaw, a Nobel Prize winning playwright, famously rejected the rules of split infinitives. And he did so by writing an angry letter to The Times, demanding that the editor who kept changing his words should be fired:

“I call for this man’s instant dismissal; it matters not whether he decides to quickly go or to go quickly or quickly to go. Go he must, and at once.”

Perhaps a bit harsh, but Shaw understood that grammar is not what makes writing beautiful.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach