62. Nine weeks.

bh

I am, if you are new here, doing 100 posts in 100 days. And trying to get 60 000 views. That’s not going to happen. I should have said 30 000. That is going to happen. I’m just about two thirds of the way there.

It’s been a busy week. The kids are home for the holidays, and I have grown temporarily obsessed with filling my driveway with sawdust and broken bits of wood. This hasn’t left much time for posting. I’ve still been getting them out, albeit later than usual, but it has given me pause for thought.

Our driveway, yesterday.

Our driveway, yesterday.

The main reason I set out to do this was to practice writing. I wanted to see if I could write every day rather than just when I felt like it. I also just wanted my writing to become more fluid.

But here’s the thing; I’ve never been much of a self-editor. I would even hand in exam papers unchecked, even if I had the time. I do, however, think that one should at least read over what one has written before sending it out. If someone is kind enough to read what you have written, it’s disrespectful to send out something half-baked.

Care for a slice of cake?

Care for a slice of cake?

The less time I have, the less carefully I edit myself. I don’t think I’m sending out any glaring errors, but I’m starting to question my style. First of all, there’s “and” and “but”, my two new bugbears. I know you’re not supposed to start sentences with them. But I do. And it’s starting to annoy me.

Then there’s that whole thing with sentences. There are rules about how sentences are supposed to be put together. I break those. All the time. My spellcheck doesn’t like it.

And you won't like my spellcheck when it gets angry.

And you won’t like my spellcheck when it gets angry.

I have always felt that if you are aware of the rules, breaking them occasionally is not a problem, so long as you know why you’re doing it. Unless you are writing formally, your words should flow like those of a well-spoken person telling a story out loud. People telling stories out loud don’t follow the rules of grammar, but good story tellers do instinctively follow a less defined set of rules.

Rules about rhythm and pace. Rules no-one teaches you, but that everyone can feel. Good storytellers know where the pauses are. They know when to speed up and when to slow down. They know when their sentences should be short and clipped and when they should meander about like lazy rivers. They know when to start sentences with “and”, or “but”, and when to speak in fragments.

Maybe I shouldn't have meandered quite so much.

Maybe I shouldn’t have meandered quite so much.

I would like to be able to do that with my writing. But there’s a huge caveat to that. I need to work harder on moderating myself. I used to love watching a TV show called “Top Gear”. It’s about cars. I don’t like cars, but I loved the show. It was the style that made it appealing. It was funny and rich and irreverent.

I don’t watch it any more. I can’t. It’s the style that puts me off. It’s just too instantly recognisable and repetitive. It’s become, for me, a bit of a parody of itself. I can see the same thing happening to me. I need to rein myself in before the things that were originally appealing about my writing become teeth-clenchingly annoying, and my blog starts to look like it was written by Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. I don’t want strangers to club together to have me banned from the internet.

Definitely starting a sentence with "but" again.

Definitely starting a sentence with “but” again.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to buy Mrs 23thorns an electric cattle-prod. I’m going to ask her to proof-read my posts. If I start a sentence with “and” or “but” more than twice a post, I’m going to ask her to jab me with it. If I use the same phrases over and over again, she’s going to shock me while I’m sleeping. If spellcheck decides that over half my sentences are not actually real sentences, she gets to turn it on and throw it at me while I’m in the bath.

And once a day, when I least suspect it, she will get to sneak up and zap me for no reason at all. This has nothing to do with my writing. I just think it will make her happy.

A marital aid, 23thorns style.

A marital aid, 23thorns style.

Anyhow, enough waffling. Mrs 23thorns’ trigger finger is starting to look a little itchy. This week, I wrote about our chief of police, and his supernatural investigator. I wrote about owls. Twice. I promise never to do so again. I wrote about the Japanese and their space robot, and snorkelling in glasses. And I wrote about my children.

I hope everything was up to scratch last week. I felt like I was dashing things off at the last minute. This will, I fear, continue. The kids are still at home, and next week we’re going away. We’ll see how that goes.

Good luck with the blogging, Dad!

Good luck with the blogging, Dad!

If you do feel like things are slipping, you can get hold of Mrs 23thorns on her blog. I’m sure she’ll be happy to zap me on your behalf. Apart from that, thank you all for reading and I hope you stick with me for the final third. Here’s today’s vote;

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48 thoughts on “62. Nine weeks.

  1. markgelbart says:

    It is not grammatically nor stylistically incorrect to start sentences with an and or but.

  2. Buzzwordz says:

    See, here’s the thing. There is no point in voting for the cattle prod when history has shown us that there is nothing you enjoy more than dangling a carrot (or worm as the case may be) in front of our faces. And so voting for sentences which start with ‘and’ or ‘but was really the only way to go.

  3. Your post today made me smile 🙂

    Well, your posts always make me smile, but today it was because you were writing about a subject that I’m intimately familiar with!

    I’ve just finished six years of studying part time, and I now have, much to my surprise, a degree in literature and creative writing – but – all through my courses I had been constantly corrected. Not so much on my sentence structure, but because I used ‘and’ and ‘but’ too much, along with too many exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!

    I was the despair of my creative writing teacher, and my essays always came back with little red scrawls where, according to my tutor, I used to many of the above! Lol

    But, unfortunately – and I use this word very lightly – I had already been writing since the age of 4, when I wrote my very first story, and so 30-odd years of writing habit have been too much to break this habit of mine!

    And even with the threat of instant electrification from Mr Night Owl, I doubt if this will change, but I do try not to overuse my ‘ands’ and buts’ too much – and as for the exclamation marks . . . . . but we won’t go into that!!!!!!!

  4. Hi. Glad you stopped by my blog so I could check yours out in return. I’ve been a writer for 20+ years, and it’s always interesting to read about the motivations and aspirations of other writers. When I wrote my first fiction novel, I got up at 5 am every morning. I don’t do that anymore. Keep up with your writing; I think it’s great.

  5. Jocelyn Hers says:

    Well, well, well, the byways your blog leads me to. I discover that my spellchecker is more learned than I gave it credit for. Zabulonia is an ancient nation that no longer exists, but has Google entries. Hence no spellchecker correction. As I say, the places your blog will go. (With apologies to Dr Seuss)

  6. Jocelyn Hers says:

    Just don’t let your children anywhere near the electronic prod. Maybe, though, that would make for an interesting blog… Have you noticed that spellcheckers have a thing about the letter “z”? They love it. OK, I just tested mine. I typed “Zabulonia”, and it was accepted without a single murmur.

  7. Ashana M says:

    But I also like fragments.

  8. Spy Garden says:

    I was an English (and Art History) major when I got my first bachelor’s degree and do despise glaring grammatical errors. HOWEVER, editing is tedious, and this is a blog, not a book. I think style can trump perfect grammar in blog-world. I think social media in general has a different set of grammatical rules. There has to be some forgiveness for the “but” and “and” sentences (and typos). When you have tiny devils (aka children) jabbering in your ear while you’re trying to write something coherent and no fresh pair of eyes doing a final proofread, there are bound to be some mistakes here and there. As for your “views” goal, I gave you (and tracyloveshistory) a shout out in a post last night, so get ready for your graph to spike! hahah ok not really I get like 30 views a day hah

  9. menomama3 says:

    I LIVE for the weekly update. How sad is that? The poll indicates you have a sadistic bunch of followers. You’ve replaced the worm with a zapper and we like it. As for the writing, I like your style but since you have aspirations (god bless you) I agree that mixing it up will help you grow. Way to go, Mr. 23Thorns. Keeping your readers engaged!

  10. Linne says:

    Free advice: turn OFF the spellchecker! I can’t remember how at the minute, but I did it back when I first set up my blog. And if a few typos get through, at least the readers know you’re not a robo-blogger 😉 I love your blog just the way it is, so don’t quit now!! Just don’t split your infinitives, ok? ~ Linne

  11. billgncs says:

    you’re doing great — I have not so many hits in much much longer. And, but, you could be me, so be happy 🙂

  12. Bugi says:

    an interesting post 😉

  13. TamrahJo says:

    Please add the following to the list of times Ms. 23thorns gets to zap you:
    “Whenever I become such a proper, polished writer the humour, wit and flow of my excellent storytelling is starting to suffer”

    Other than that, it all looks wonderful…
    LOL
    (Hey, does South African spell check get after you for putting a ‘u’ in humour? American ones do….)
    😛

  14. narf77 says:

    I started to twitch reading this post… I recognise myself in its depths. Actually forget depths, I recognise myself point blank! My spellchecker is a Nazi. It hates my eccentric writing capabilities. Whatchagonnado (I just gave it a heart attack with that one…) when you are too lazy to bother with correct grammar? I do this to annoy my eldest daughter. My eldest daughter is a grumpy old man. She feels the need to correct my every spelling mistake and has been known to bang her head against wooden surfaces when talking about my grammatical ineffectiveness. I am a literary failure. I fear people who use the correct vernacular and who are aware of grammatical folklore and who research the ancient (last century Mr 23Thorns) ways. At least I don’t text-speak…I won’t be handing Steve an electric cattle prod or Taser to improve my literary skills. I am standing up for my bolshie rights to bastardise the English vernacular. It gives the word twitchers something to live for and who am I to take that away? I am performing a public duty here.

    • Mary Southon says:

      great post!

    • 23thorns says:

      I don’t mind having my spelling sorted, but does the bloody thing really need to underline every second sentence in green?

      • narf77 says:

        You get green? I didn’t realise that South African spellcheckers were different to Australian spell checkers…mine is blue…blue bloody blue everything! I think blue might be grammar actually…I refuse to be stuffed in a gramatically correct box! I reserve my right to make people wince with my lack of the vernacular!

  15. Mary Southon says:

    Thank god no more owls. And more owls. But keep up the posts about your children. And Mrs. 23Thorns.

  16. Thanks for the Sunday a.m. giggles! You crack me up! So glad to have discovered your blog space! 😀

  17. An interesting post. I think that it’s a great idea to write deliberately, to make sure that one’s style is necessary, and not merely convenient. I look forward to your results!

    • 23thorns says:

      I’m trying to find the middle ground. Too deliberate and the words don’t keep up with the ideas. I suppose the best way to do it is to get it all down and fix it afterwards, but life is short.

  18. albertine says:

    oops – terribel typo – ‘here’ for ‘hear’ – that’s another reason never to post without checking foirst. Dammit.

  19. albertine says:

    Sorry mate – a less successful post. Maybe it’s just me, because I have spent the last several years editing student writing, so i don’t really want to here a grown man thinking through stuff that (I suspect) he already knows the answer to. (where do you stand on final prepositions?). And parentheses? Don’t answer those questions!
    Here’s my advice – write, edit, don’t let on how you got to where you got. (also – they told me never to use ‘got’ – but that was 50 years ago and in another country.) I love (I lurve) the pictures – real flair there. And I really liked the clever para where ‘rein’ and ‘rain man’ appeared near each other.
    I can’t even keep up with READING a blog a day! Go, go, go!

  20. Lyn says:

    But if you changed your style of writing, it wouldn’t be you. And what’s more, you wouldn’t reach even 30,000 hits, because people will think…”Oh, he’s taken on a ghost writer. I don’t like that. I prefer Mr. 23Thorns style of writing.” But I certainly don’t want Mrs 23Thorns to damage him.

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