I wanted to take English and do something magical with it. The terms were how it is used, spoken and written. Out of that desire I have developed McIntoshLinguistics, an educational and grammatical editing business for manuscripts. Interestingly, I created the business and modelled it to meet a personal need that became apparent to me while I studied writing and narratology. Contemporaneously, I wrote and self-published my first novel, What’s in a Name. In fact, immediately after completing that process I wrote my second, the soon-to-be-published “The Perfumed Shroud”.
So what was that personal need? It occurred to me that I really did not know how English works, despite being able to speak it well enough. Following that realization something else became apparent: I did not possess the language on a skill level or scale that would invite or elevate thought beyond what I already knew, such as the false beliefs, the biases, etc. So I sought after the skills that would expand reasoning, provide clarity, reveal fallacies, or push me to demystify this remarkably complex yet exceedingly powerful language. I needed to see to the fulfillment of all the foregoing. In fact, Molly Stern, the editor of Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, said it perfectly: “What I really wanted to do was [to] tend to my own obsessions and figure out how to do it independently.”
Now here I am just over six years into the process of attending to my obsession. The beloved Dr. Maya Angelou once said that one ought not to say that he/she knows enough. You may know a lot, she suggested, but how do you know when you know enough in the context of education, of your participation in life, this present reality?
I agree with Dr. Angelou. I have gathered, studied and meditated on a lot of subjects and ideas afforded me via English, rather, my continued process of demystifying the language. This fact has now led me to the purpose of this piece that you are now reading: a reckoning of the magnitude of English and to what it, in my pursuit to possess language to increase knowledge, has led me.
I have traversed the realms of English that now allow me to understand verb phenomenons, morphology, modality, verb forms, aspect, tense, inflection and conjugation, primary tense, the preterite, the infinitive. And these cover topics containing verbs alone. Also, I have been keen to focus on various topics that allow me to create trenchant writing. Such topics include nominal clauses, complement clauses and relative clauses. I have discovered that studying the linguistic aspect of English increases conciseness and monosemy, which is a linguistic property.
What is most interesting about this journey that I embarked on as a function of fulfilling my own desire to find my life’s purpose through writing is that I have realized that to write is to demonstrate pure knowledge. (The beloved author Toni Morrison also once said that writing is pure knowledge.) And the path to that knowledge is education, of course. Although not every writer is required or inclined to study the technicalities and/or the nuances of English, I found that for me to write and maintain an unadulterated level of control over the narrative, the art itself and even the message is to study every aspect of the singular tool available to me: the language itself.
But I have struggled to paint a realistic, accurate picture of the wealth of knowledge that I have gained in just over six years. However, I now realize that I did not need to struggle, because the answer has always been in this concept: learned ignorance. This is the result when “people make their own ignorance the object [the thing acted upon] of their desire for knowledge.”
However, I find that it is a struggle, or perhaps it is merely a hurdle, when I speak to others about one of my truths: similar to Michelle Obama’s book editor, Molly Stern, speaking about starting her own publishing firm, I too feel that I have “tend[ed] to my own obsessions,” which means that I applied myself to learning English academically. But the truth is that I also independently learned to write. People usually react with some level of incredulity; however, being an autodidact is an aptitude that I long discovered I had.
So I have earned what I pursued, which is the learning and understanding of the English language both grammatically and linguistically. I see this as a form of meritocracy, my demonstrating my own abilities. As a result, I seek to gain success, authority as an expert, and influence based on my demonstrated abilities and merit.
Respected MIT Professor Patrick Winston said that “Your success in life will be determined largely by your ability to speak, your ability to write, and the quality of your ideas, in that order.” I believe that it is the truth in or of this statement that exploited my own desire for success and also my desire to be great at something.
That desire then compelled me to create both a professional mindset and a growth mindset. The former is necessary because having a system to achieve your goals matters. And the latter is concomitant because you have to create a reward system to prevent burnout. That is an ever-present danger in the pursuit to possess the skill of using a language like English on an ambitious level or scale.
I want to take this opportunity to say that I am looking for what I said about English at the beginning of this: something magical. That quality would be for me to be able to share and elevate others through what I have learned, including a heuristic technique and approach to learning English academically and a process-method to editing, both of which I have developed to create trenchant writing.
I now invite you, whether as an individual, or an entity or organization to allow me to show you the potential that is inherent in elevating you, your message and your modus operandi.
The invitation is an offer to elevate you, your message and your modus operandi.