As I was browsing through Strunk and White for an upcoming article, I noted some examples of the “wrong”‘ way to write a sentence and the “right” way. And, of course, I agreed; even though I am not a “Strunk and White” man, it is hard not to agree with them on most matters grammatical. There is a very big difference between grammatical analysis and writing, however. Consider the following example from the 50th Anniversary Edition of Stunk and White.
I know the second is grammatically correct, just as sure as I know there are times when a writer would rightly use the grammatically wrong construction.
How can I say this? How can I defend it? Very easily it turns out. When I write a sentence, paragraph, article, or book, I just don’t care if the writing is grammatically correct. I just care that the writing works. For example, in a recent song, I wrote:
The issue isn’t that this is poetry and it is okay to play with words and syntax in poetry. I would do and do do the same thing in prose—I just can’t think of any examples at the moment. My point is, however, that while Strunk and White and Fowler and Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences and The Chicago Manual of Style are important to anyone who wants to write well, one must be willing to let them all go to hell. This is writing, not grammar school.
 I don’t mean to be cryptic. The book is The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White (Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little). But everybody calls it Strunk and White—perhaps because there are many other books with this title (but none that I know of are about English grammar; they are about things like interior design and knitting) or because writers are a bunch of pretentious twats. On second thought: it is definitely because writers are a bunch of pretentious twats.
 Roy Blount Jr. wrote, “After Scott Simon interviewed me on NPR about whether the word ‘e-mail’ needs a hyphen (yes it does) [No it doesn’t! -FM], some listeners, including friends of mine, wondered why I had answered in the affirmative when asked, in passing, ‘Are you a drunken white man?’ Those listeners misheard. ‘Strunk and White man’ was what Scott said.”
 In this sentence “sure” is an adverb and does not need an “ly” to announce how I am using it!