Grump. Grump. Grump.

My Grump-tastic Ways

I’m Autumn Tompkins — The Grumpy Grammarian.

Bad copy makes me grumpy. But I promise not to judge you because of bad grammar.

Sure, there are grammar rules. But… They aren’t The 10 Commandments. And you won’t go to Hell for breaking those pedantic rules. (But, in the event you do end up in Dante’s Inferno for using The Oxford Comma, I take full responsibility.)

I prefer to think of grammar rules more like speed limit signs. That is — A set of responsible suggestions meant to be broken so that your copy attracts avid readers, raving fans, and loyal customers. My job is to help you learn how to make that happen.

And being a good Grump means I needed to focus my grumpiness… on teaching copywriters how to become amazing copy editors. 

But nobody’s just born with a cool moniker like The Grumpy Grammarian.

It’s a title I earned.

During my childhood, there were no…

Magical possibilities of wonder like… Do goldfish bounce? At what temperature do you bake a mud pie? And if you get “fired” does that mean someone lights your pants on fire? Or is that just for lying?

Playful beliefs that you’re invincible. And tooth decay is a myth: yes, you CAN overindulge on candy without consequences.

Blissful thoughts that life can’t possibly get any better because pizza is shaped like the food pyramid, so it’s the only food you need.

Instead, it was…

Tests. Tourniquets. Tubes.

You see, I have a congenital myopathy and spent the vast majority of my childhood in a hospital suffering from chronic pneumonia. My average hospital stay was 3 months. But my longest? Just shy of 7 months.

And all of that made me grumpy with a capital Grump, because staying in the hospital meant…

-No siblings to play with – because they had to go to school,

-No pets to cuddle with – because they weren’t allowed in the hospital,

-No Christmas presents – because my family didn’t celebrate until we were all together,

-No fluffy birthday cake – because I couldn’t eat anything with a ventilation tube down my throat,

-No warm sunshine on my skin – because I was stuck in a hospital bed.

All I got were ventilators, needles, and uncomfortable beds…

I was so grumpy that the child entertainment specialist (Woody Wolfe) at Geisinger Medical Center made it his mission to make me smile.

He knew music was the way and wrote a song about my grump-tastic ways: The Grump Song. Which included some of my favorite sarcastic comments about hospital living.

No, I don’t want to eat breakfast. It’s 7:45 a.m. Do you honestly think I want pancakes that early in the morning?

No, I don’t want to participate in physical therapy. I’m supposed to be healing. Not stretching my hamstrings. Do you think I’m going to run a 5K?

No, I don’t want to paint, color, or put glitter on ANYTHING. How do you expect me to take part in enrichment programs with all these tubes attached to my body? Let me watch MTV in peace.

Here’s the song. Listen at your own risk.

When he sang that song to me, it was the first time I smiled in a hospital. For the first time, I knew it was okay to be a grump. Hell, it was actually fun. Because I was a Grump who got away with…

-Improvised syringe “squirt gun” fights with the nurses.

-Extra time playing Super Mario Brothers with the hospital’s Nintendo.

-M & M poker with older cancer patients.

“Oh, she’s just grumpy today. Let her be.” – said every hospital staff member.

Because that’s what I am.

A Grump. Grump. Grump.

And it’s grump-tastic to be grumpy. Because…

It means I’m being honest with myself.

I’m not hiding behind a perpetual curtain of positivity. Filled with fake smiles, uninspiring affirmations, and endless gratitude.

I’m not ignoring the bad. I’m embracing it and learning from it.

I’m learning more about myself — How to love myself, how to treat myself, and how to be a better me.

When I’m a better me, you get the best of my abilities…

The strong leader
The critical thinker
The objective problem solver

Being a grump makes me unapologetically happy.

You know what else turns my frown upside down?

My niece and nephew who are sweeter (and more colorful because of their imaginations) than gummy bears. They remind me not to take myself too seriously. And they tell the best stories — Like the one about a girl named Mozzarella who tasted like cotton candy. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more interesting story in my whole life. I. Need. To. Hear. More.

My dogs, Ginger and Moose, who help me practice patience and the Pomodoro technique without even setting a timer. My world doesn’t revolve around me. They remind me that there’s something more important in this world than myself — Caring for and loving them.

And art. From the permanent ink etched into my skin (I have more than 50 tattoos) to the mixed medium rock sculptures and penny-on-canvas creations, I love working with tattoo artists to design wearable art and using my creativity to make art. It expands my thinking and engages my senses. (Did you know there’s more than just 5?)

Get my book, The Grumpy Grammarian’s Guide To Copy Editing For Copywriters.

It’s packed with copy editing tips to help you write faster, better, stronger copy in less time. And is almost as fun as free condoms. Because you need to protect your words.

Confused about commas, semicolons & colons? Then sign up for my FREE guide. It’ll make you smarter, better looking, more famous, and (at least) 3 inches taller.