The Distracted Writer

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Holidays aren’t enough. Kids aren’t enough. Mechanical issues with appliances lure writers away from their choice seat. Obviously it’s okay to pile on more. Distractions. We tell ourselves that. There’s always tomorrow.

It’s really a bad habit. Half-written stories, manuscripts in the drawer unsent, journals forgotten with worthwhile gems lodged in their pages —

That’s exactly my point.

Most things can wait, though. It’s our writing that shouldn’t. Our time lines are usually our own, and arbitrarily made, but we allow distractions to happen, don’t we?

Writers can be the best excuse-makers.

Our attention is pulled from our writing all too often. We become our routines, and soon enough writing eeks out its existence on the edges of our schedule (ooh, did you notice all that assonance?).

See? I just did it. I moved from the idea of distraction to a grammatical term most are unfamiliar with, unless you count all the English teachers out there, and the linguists who sport with such terms because they can.

The negative side of having distractions is obvious. The writing stagnates. Ideas hover at dead-ends. The writer’s oomph dissipates. Not. Good. For. Writer.

A positive that could be said is that the distracted writer’s mind is quick, and open to possibilities, a mind ripe for ideas because any distraction, routined or not, is fodder for future writing. All of life is, then, isn’t it? Life is our inspiration. So, one could argue, distractions become a good thing, and the distracted writer, a good one. When. Writer. Sits. In. Seat.

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The Eve Eve

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No doubt the countdown has begun for most of the Gregorian calendar changeover, or what we also dub as a great excuse for a long weekend. So, I feel compelled to suck out a few minutes of your life and have you read this. Okay, really, it’s totally you’re fault. I haven’t said anything to make you vacate this virtual space, not yet anyway, not at least until the latest tweet distracts you, your kid pulls at your leg, or Morpheus calls you. I’m not sure what he calls you, but I’m sure it’s something good.

I’m just compelled to fill space, I guess, compelled to end the year with another blog notch to add to my non-existent blog belt, unless you count the stats and all things that track who’s following you, and all those wonderful “they love me!” widgets that applaud your ego, Klout and Kred, and all things social media juicy.

It is juicy, isn’t it. This –right here– this is what I have in the past called e-crack, and if I bothered to track it down, I’d find the video proving how it all stimulates all the right everything in our brains that it practically is a drug. Oh, the brain!!! I don’t know a thing about it, except that I have one, and that it works (most of the time), and can be fairly creative at times, but that falls flat if my secretary doesn’t show up for work. It’s weird. She has the same name I do.

You got that, did you? Emphasis on snarky. Ya. And, I’m not writing grammatically correct either in some of these sentences!! Fragments, repeated words…and a bunch of other geeky editorial stuff that wouldn’t mean much to most, but is well stored between my ears, filed under “Pet Peeves”.

The year is at a close and my To Do list is longer. I suppose that’s a good thing, only it all seems more daunting. Yes, yes, baby steps. Got that point. The problem with being creative (it’s a problem???) is that you’re interested in so many things, start a whole heck of a lot of projects, and if you’re lucky, the ten percent rule applies –you finish 10% of your projects. That would be faring rather well, in my books. Your books, if you’re more organized, should bode better.

A blog is a start. It’s that pin prick in your side that says “Hey, don’t forget about me!! You have followers now. An audience! Don’t forget about them. They’ll feel all sad, and hungry for words, those poor starving readers.” With great blogging, comes great responsibility. There is no guilt trip, rather, and I’d like to stay positive on this one, a look-forward-to. Yes, that’s a compound noun ending in a preposition. Creative licence. Writers can do that. They make stuff up all the time, change the rules, bend them a little. So many occasions require it, unless you’re in academia –different story.

Story. It’s all about story. Whether here, or as tweets, or novels. You have one. And here’s where I circle back to the whole celebrating the new year, and hoorah horrah, auld lang syne, sip some champagne (or mock, if that’s your style), and cheer to the hopes and aspirations we list, like the typical losing weight, look prettier, make more money…the generic goals that lose themselves in the minutiae of our lives’ routines somewhere around January second or third. Insert applause here if you make it to mid-month. Have another party if they last until February. Whatever you do, it’s your story. They’re your goals. And that you’ve read this far, yeehah!, I’ve just made one of mine.

Happy New Year, readers!!

Is Text-speak Ruining English?

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The plethora of mediums that do not require full-on grammatical formality that adheres to academia’s standards of excellence whittles down to the many arenas where we find English, well, kind of lacking. These being of course, and not limited to, social media like Twitter, RSS feeds, SMSs (cel texting), and every day tangibles like menus, signage, or even handwritten notes. Do newer forms of English communication, like texting, impede on the quality of our language?

Ah, but this is the beauty and flexibility of language, and English is well accustomed to bending to the needs of the populace.

I was watching a DVD at a friend’s the other night; two characters in the film rehearsed lines from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Amongst our mini throng of couch potatoes, we commented on how formal sounding his plays were as compared to today’s lingo and did they actually reflect the way people spoke nearly five hundred years ago? We’d like to think so, but surely, even then, the people in the streets hadn’t the vocabulary Shakespeare had pronounced upon the stage. His medium was theatre, so much of the connotations were supported by gestures and actions if any in the audience hadn’t a clue to words like scurrilous or gambol (I’m completely theorizing here). One can safely say that, no, people didn’t talk quite like that, linguists would argue. Conversations not being recorded means linguists are guessing based on few records that survived time. So, that being said, knowing that language lives only by its speakers, and knowing people’s tendency to get lazy, and/or finding shorter and easier ways to say the same thing, we reduce.

For all practical purposes, such reductions are necessary due to space allotment. A billboard is only so big above a movie theatre; hence, shorter movie titles fit. It’s better to have “Titanic” than “The Ship That was Unsinkable Sank”.

Twitter-speak is a practical necessity with its ‘u’ for you, or ‘b/c’ for because; we must remain within 140 characters, and yet isn’t it amazing how much can still be communicated in such short blurbs?

So, the underlying question, then, is whether the truncation of English (‘Know what I mean?’ Instead of ‘Do you know what I mean?’) impairs the quality of English. Let me put out two thoughts on that. One, are messages in Twitter, for example, any less communicative because of the shortening of things? No, communication rises above the level of what we deem necessary grammatically (though I am a proponent of accuracy and clearly understand that within certain contexts, good grammar incites better communication).  Further to that, to be able to say much in few words suggests a mastery of conciseness, and isn’t that what our high school teachers always hounded us on? Two, if there is a fear, amongst parents, that these kinds of shortenings degrade their children’s writing and reading skills because their kids ‘R txng 2 mch’, it means that the fear regards the possible transference of that into the classroom, or worse still, into the workplace (or prevent them from getting there), and then what? All h*** breaks loose. Civilization as we know it completely implodes.

Laugh now.

While it is true that short-speak has its place, it is, perhaps, just the increase in the number of new communication channels that seem to fool us into thinking that English is becoming dominated by truncated or reduced forms, texting being a popular mode. I certainly don’t speak to my family in a robotic manner, omitting necessary prepositions in a conversation because of texting. Teenagers birth new slang, sometimes shorter versions of more formal terms without such a sentenced influence (pun intended) that texting bears, and immigrants are wonderful for introducing new vocabulary to the language and culture they’re entering, English or otherwise, outside of that. Technology has bred necessary changes to our language, but communication hasn’t gotten lost.  Language, English, has adapted based on speakers’ needs. Texting has its niche, and so far, hasn’t infiltrated negatively on how we communicate; it has definitely enriched it, though. Text-speak lives.

Made-up Pronouns Freak Me Out

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Personal pronouns are getting badly abused. Poor widdle pwersonal pwonouns (pats them on their heads).

I read something that irked me to immediacy. So, I’m here, posting before I get further distracted from the distraction that had me whisked away from my original evening task, and instead I’m advocating for the rightful use of personal pronouns, specifically the reflexive plural “themselves”. Continue reading