What’s Wrong with My Writing (Post #330)

You could start by looking at the title.  Or maybe I should’ve said, “You CAN start by looking at the title.”  Maybe I should’ve capitalized the “W” in with, but it just didn’t look right.  And there – in that statement – you have my entire experience of high school English.

 

Feck learning the rules of English grammar.  I was more like the Helen Keller of my native tongue.  Does it feel right?  Does it sound right?  That’s typically what I go with.

 

Now, I’m not some kind of idiot…

 

Alright, well, today I am because I got into a little fender-bender on the highway and I “trusted” the other driver who rear ended me by taking down only his name and number.  Not his license.  Not his plates or registration.  His name and number.  Well, he gave me a fax line.  A fake fax line.

 

So, today I am sort of a d*ck.

 

But, not usually…

 

When I have to hand in an assignment to an actual publication, when I do something for money, let’s say, then the Strunk & White comes out.

 

strunk and white

Strunk it out!

 

Things get checked.  Rules are gone over, learned, re-learned, and understood.  But, not in this space.  In this space, I believe as Seth Godin and Ze Frank have said, “You have to ship.”  You have to ‘send’ things before they are 100% and tweak along the way because the internet moves fast.  And if you’re not ‘shipping’ you might as well be dead.

 

That means you have to hit publish even before things are ready.

 

So, when I write fast, as I’m doing now, there are frequent repeated patterns of ca-ca in my writing.  I’d like to go over them now.  It helps me to take a temperature on how I’m doing.  It also says, “Hey, I’m far from infallible.  You?”  Well, let’s be imperfect together.

 

My writing can be a clunk-fest.  Oh, clunky writing.  Sometimes my posts are chunky, platform shoes worn with an ill-fitting prairie skirt and tolerated by taking a too few many sips of wine.  (See what I mean?)  I tend to say a mouth full when a nibble will do.  I work on it, surely, I do.  However, I like writing long assed things.  Full sentences that spill over into the next ones.  It’s not great in the literary sense.  It’s not.  If an English teacher were to read this post there’d be red marks all over it.  (I mean, I just said ‘there’d!’)

 

clunky sandals

Clunk around much? Me, all day long.

 

I’m comma crazy.  God, I love a comma.  I’ll put six of them in a sentence, (see) if it makes sentences seem like I’m talking right to you.  Sure, I understand WHY they’re supposed to be used – mainly for clauses.  Well, let’s just say, I have a CLAUSE addiction.  I’ll put things -between two more things- just because I can.  And you see, that’s not the proper way to bracket off the clause.  But, it feels right and typically you’ll get it.  It doesn’t make it right, but it does make it me.

 

punctuation saves lives

Enough said.

 

I misspell things.  Misspellings I WILL go back and fix.  See my post – grammar d*cks and doggie clits, to see more on my thoughts therein.  I think if a post is riddled with misspellings it can be a true turn-off.  It tends to be the visual equivalent of someone with a regional equivalent who has never sought out a way to round out his voice a bit more.  You start to think this redneck/ white trash/ southern/ northern/ yankee/ truck driver/ mutherfecker needs to learn some manners.  I’m all about manners, so bad spelling I will fix.  I try to not have it happen at all.  But, if you are truly ‘shipping’ it is impossible not to do so from time to time.  So my method is publish, pray, and tweak.  Doesn’t have to be yours, but it is mine.

 

I’m not the best at plot.  When I try to write true fiction, it sucks.  Truly, it does.  Now it may get better over time, but fiction is not my forte.  Non-fiction – yes.  Quirky stuff – falling somewhere between 500 – 1,000 words – golden.  But, plot??!!  I’ve tried.  I’ve had notecards all over my wall mapping out a plot from A to Z.  Only to sit down and write it and very quickly, thereafter, want to open a vein.  Part of knowing what you’re good at is knowing where you truly suck.  Doesn’t mean you can’t get better, but -for me- honesty is key.

 

That’s it for today.  A criticism of me, by me.  I will say, though, to quote Chris Brogan — WE’RE ALL DOING IT WRONG.

 

What about you?  Where are your writing weak spots?

 

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Sweet Mother is updated daily-ish.  To follow the madness, click the link at the top of the blog and add your email address.

 

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Photo creds:

comma-usage, sandals, strunkandwhite

 

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71 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with My Writing (Post #330)

  1. Listen, sister, ramble on with your run-on sentence self. If we wanted to read English teacher’s essaylese, we’d enroll in community college. When I read you, I know you. That’s enough for me. Really. For sure. Double exclamation point!!

  2. I like compound sentences, the kinds of sentences that contain more thoughts than necessary, so many thoughts that by the time you finish the sentence you feel as though you are lost in the woods and have no idea about how you started this dreadful, terrible journey. I also like dashes – I think they more closely follow the way I think and talk. They work better than a comma for me – but that’s just me.

      1. I write some product and marketing copy from time to time and I always default to what looks “good” – not ever what looks “right”. I have developed a fondness for ellipses too since I started blogging.

  3. You name it. Past passed – they’re, their and there! Your, you’re, some and sum too, two to. What and wtf? Who created this language anyway? Satan thy name is editing! My first editor quit after the second round because he couldn’t tolerate swimming in semi-colons. GAAAHHHH! Dialogue is the most difficult thing for me to write.

    1. this was also awesome, honie! ’tis true… see, i like using terms like, ’tis…what am i the night before christmas???? lool. anyhoo, i DO believe god is in the edit when you’re doing a big project that you want to sell. here, i more or less, vomit-type. lool. much love, sweetie, much love. sm

      1. funny! I pretty much vomit-typed my book, day and night as a matter of fact, it couldn’t be helped. It took a lot of re-writing to finally get the finished product.

  4. My Dad was an English teacher, but I never really learned English formally. Like you, I think I know what “sounds right”, and go with that. I like to think that I’d be able to write fiction, but I don’t have much to show for it so far. If I need any encouragement, I need only go to the rants and raves section of Craigslist and look at what the lunatics are using in place of English.

  5. I think it’s acceptable to be more informal with blog posts. I use a lot of contractions that I wouldn’t normally do in more formal writing (unless it’s dialogue in fiction where people normally speak using contractions). And even some of the stuff in the Elements of Style has been criticized for being outdated. For example, some writers argue that it’s now acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition because it sounds less stiff. I still try to avoid it, but let’s face it, we all do that when we’re speaking, and sometimes in a blog post it makes more sense to end with a preposition than to sound like Frasier Crane…

    1. oh, if i had my way we’d ALL sound like frasier crane. loool. agreed, there’s a lot of flexibility for blog posting. though, i do think some of us are more ‘flexible minded’ about it than others. as for a work i’m trying to see – of course, i go over it like a thousand times and usually have others look at it as well. sigh, but here – it’s press play. or i’d never get it done half the time. xoxox, sm

  6. Even if you’re writing is imperfect, I still really enjoy it. It’s what makes you, you. The you that absolutely has to tell me when the next time is so that I can be first at the door because I feel like a horrible friend for not making it this time! Terrible, really.

    1. sk! don’t even sweat it. i do plenty of these little shows here and there. there will be another opportunity for sure. and whenever you’re gigging in la, you must let me know. wifesy and i LOVE going to see music. and as for the writing, we soldier on! flaws and all! loool. xo, sm

  7. Well, my obvious issue is not being a native speaker of English. Though grammar is somewhat my passion so I think many times I notice things others don’t as far as grammar goes, but I can never feel overly confident.

    As a non-native, my issue is idioms. I’m afraid of misusing or misunderstanding them, but nothing gives me greater pleasure than learning new ones! Says so much about a culture.

    1. pixie, i never, ever, EVER would’ve known you’re not a native speaker. your english is impeccable, which sort of makes my use of incorrect english all the more embarrassing. loool. i will say i struggle with those idioms in spanish. i tend to take them very literally when they are not intended that way at all! xoxo, sm

      1. Aww, Mother, that is so awesome of you to say!

        Yeah, that is the fun about idioms… unfortunately I have friends who just love to pick on me (in a good way, I hate them only a little) and sometimes won’t correct me when I got some idiom wrong. F*ckers.

        Anywaaaaaaayyss…

  8. : – ; and … I have to ellipse daily – or at least in just about every post at least once ! I can even squeeze an ellipse into my six word Saturday posts :)
    Spell check is my achilles heel and it bugs the cr@p out of me when the British-English fails to pass muster. My list of ignore always words grows whenever I toss a Finnish tidbit into the text….
    Number one turnoff: the overscore feature that WP has – sometimes it makes sense to see an original idea crossed out, most of the time it just looks stupid.
    As for your writing SM, from now on I’m going to read you with Frasier Cranes voice – it’s a perfect match :)

    1. i know what you mean about the overscore. wait, it’s the strike though that i’m thinking of… is it the same thing? it might be. i think a lot of ppl try and use that for comedic effect. every once in a while i think it’s great, but when there’s an entire post full of cross outs, it gets hella tedious. and for some reason there’s a part of my brain that writes half in frasier crane’s voice and half in a female, black, preacher’s…i don’t know why this is. it just is. loool. thanks for your wonderful comment, kanerva. xoxo, sm

  9. There are enough people telling other people how to write that it could ruin you permanently if you take it too seriously.

    As an old friend of mine used to say, “F&^# ’em if they can’t take a joke”. ‘Course, he was more than a little crazy. ;-)

    1. looool. so true, so true. mainly i just try and stay true to the beat of my own drummer, so to speak. but, those pesky rules of english get in the way sometimes. hopefully i’m striking some sort of balance between terrible grammar and yet, readable. loool. xo, sm

  10. my grammar stinks and I never catch anyone’s mistakes either when I read so living in complete obliviousness(word?) is pure Heaven! Smile — I think your writing is perfect. I hate punctuation rules. I have a BA in English and you would never know it. Ha

  11. Becks, I love the casual welcoming tone in your blogs. It makes the reader feel as if she (or he) has kicked off their shoes, sitting in a comfortable chair with a glass of wine laughing or talking about the good stuff in life. I love dashes and use them way too much but that feels right to me. When it comes to more business-like writing, I have to pull out my sources as well. I do love writing dialogue though and try to hone my fiction writing skills that way. Keep doing what you do. You have a voice and one that makes people feel right at home.

    1. briges, every time you stop by here you bring a smile to momma’s face. truly. thanks for saying all those kind things. i DO feel like a clunk-fest, abusive hyphen user at times, but feck it. it’s me. ;) and your blog feels the same, like enjoying a nice wine with a friend. xoxox, sm

  12. First, regarding the fender bender f* that douchenozzle! (Not as eloquently put as you could have but what the hey)

    Second, I agree that most of us don’t care about grammar and punctuation on blogs, etc. these are for insights into whatever topic the blogger has put out and to add our two cents when appropriate.

    I blame AIM (old school), text messages, and my wonderful ipad for my spelling and grammar issues and I still don’t know half the “short hand” out there.

    I actually get more annoyed by the grammar police online but specifically blogs, they are basically public diaries often times.

    Damn looking up, they above is quite an incoherent and grammatical mess HA

    1. i can’t even imagine what the blogs of the future will look like when kids grow up texting and tweeting from day one. there will be one titled, ‘u likey me c u yolo nfb…’ it will make little sense, but i bet it will exist. lool. as for the fender bender i was a total feckwad and didn’t get enough info because i was running late for an interview. but, HE was the biggest douchnozzle of all because YES he gave me a fake name and number and he slammed into the back of my car. momma soldiers on tho. ain’t nothing else for her to do. ;) xoxo, sm

  13. Rear ended? I hope he used enough lube.

    Sorry. Couldn’t pass it up. How’re you doing? I hope you’re okay.

    As for where my writing sucks, take a look at some of my posts. lol. One weak area is sometimes I have too little detail, others, too much.

    I love the way you write, Donohue. It’s as if we’re face to face havin’ a little chat. Epic.

    1. ewwwwwwwww. lol. i swear all you dudes think the same. look on my fb and there’s another bloke there who left a very similar comment. ;) i’d say you’re still new to blogging and i’m telling you, your writing will progress and change over time. at least, mine did. and thanks for the kind words, robert. momma loves you!!! xoxo, sm

  14. I’m an English major and I still fuck up constantly on blog posts. It’s tricky being the creator, visual, marketing, visual marketing, and proofreader. Things get passed over. I n when I should m dash, and semi-colon when I should comma.

    I love your writing. It’s coherent, always has a great flow, and you’re always particular about where the subject of the piece is headed. You write good. Real good.

    1. ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, you perfectly hit the nail on the head with that one, mike. i’m telling you – there are so many hats to this thing that if you’re going to post frequently, you MUST cut some corners somewhere. it sucks, but it’s true. i feel the same way about your writing – great flow. and thank you for saying that about ‘where the piece is headed,’ i do think that i ponder that question most of all. xoxo, sm

  15. I also have a love affair with the comma that will never stop, but the bigger thing since I started copy editing for the school paper is that I have become neurotic about a series of odd things. I once (semi-jokingly) smacked one of my fellow editors on the wrist for writing in the second person and not using commas before quotes. I also may have once gotten mad at one of the other editors for being too pretentious in her piece, so I rewrote it in a version of English used by real people instead of elder statesmen in the 1890’s and took out every single one of her mostly misused semicolons.

    Also, I love your writing style on here. It feels very personable and conversational, which is awesome.

    1. fads, this is hilarious. i suppose we are all grammar nazis in one way or another. i truly hate misspellings. i’m not going to say i never make them, i DO. but, i’m very likely to go back and fix those, whereas grammar – not so much. and i think i write in a voice that is a combo of elder statesman and street preacher. i don’t know why that is, but ’tis damn true. see, no grammatical sense there, just all fun. looool. i heart you. xoxo, sm

  16. I do not love descriptive writing. It bores me. One of the last things I do when revising a story is insert some visual cues. I know people need to see what I’m seeing in my head but I don’t want them getting bogged down with too many adjectives. I think I’m a bit too minimalist.

      1. Habit and training Mum. I was a tech. writer for 10 years. Tech. writing has to be precise and to the point. Besides, I don’t enjoy reading pages and pages of flowery stuff. :D

  17. If I could I’d marry the semi-colon, no I do not have some anal fetish but I like it, it’s a bit more than a comma but not over the top like a colon.

    Let’s hear it for the semi-colon!

    PS. If I marry the semi-colon, I’d have to have an affair with ellipses…

    PPS. Love your work SM!

  18. I too, have a love affair with commas. I also love ellipsis… I am the master at sentence fragments, and (parenthetical expressions). I am a grammar rebel. I figure my grammar lends to my voice even if it doesn’t follow the rules. I have written about this on my blog too – because, well, I can.

    1. you most certainly can! and you’ve nailed another one that i missed…i also have an attraction to the sentence fragment. is it laziness on my part? i’m not sure, but there’s something about it that just feels right. Like a cold beer after a hot jog. Wait, what? Just wanted to throw a frag in there for funsies. lool. xoxo, sm

  19. Why are we concerned that we are sitting about drinking tequila and talking to you in your livingroom? Is this your confession you don’t speak well when imbibing or is there something else we should know?

    I confess, I could write way more better if I were so inclined. I have shelves of books on how to write more spectacularly if I would pay more attention. I could even probably improve my vocabulary, but if I were to do that perhaps people would feel as if I didn’t care either I would be speaking down to them or through them.

    I personally love the way you write. I love reading you. When I am able I rush over here as soon as I see you. So, if someone made you feel as if there was something wrong, inappropriate or incorrect…well feck them. I will personally be your guardian of all things imperfect and tell them to bugger off if you need me to do so, just ask and point.

    1. feck ’em, indeed. no, no one particular person. just the ex-student in my head that goes, ‘you know that’s wrong, right? and you’re going to do it anyway? okay, well, carry on. but, the consequences are yours.’ more like that, i’d say. and always tequila when writing. and thanks for saying those kind things, val. xoxox, sm

  20. I abuse commas, too. I spread them like Johnny Comma-seed.

    I also mix up “your” and “you’re” which I can’t stand. Most of my grammar mistakes I shrug off, but that one makes me feel like an idiot.

    1. ‘i spread them like johnny comma-seed.’ bwwwaaahhhhhhhaaa. i loved that. yeah, the spelling thing with the your and you’re and the their and there and sometimes even the hear and here, for me, it’s all when i’m writing fast. usually i’ll see the mistake upon one re-read, but -sigh- not always and it drives me crazy too. thanks for stopping by hear, ooooops, here, byronic, i truly appreciate it. xoxo, sm

  21. I’m an em dash slut–that is, after I discovered there’s more to dashes than the humble hyphen. Sometimes, I make up sentences–sentences that have no business being there–just to use it. I totally get what you’re saying about fiction. I usually have ambitious beginnings, but don’t have the patience to see a plot through.

    PS: I had to use the double dash as an em dash proxy, coz I have no clue how to insert it in the comments box!

    1. looool. that is a dash debacle, indeed! glad to hear i’m not alone in my dash fetish. i just adore them – like really – adore them. see, no grammatical correctness there, but damn if it’s not fun. ;) anyhoo, i think the important thing is that we write. or at least i hope it is. xoxo, sm

  22. I have certain words that I always spell or use wrong. I know that I do it and no matter what happens I do it again. It drives me cray cray. Unless you are trying to write some literary masterpiece (let’s face it this really isn’t the forum for that) I like to blog and read blogs written in what I call “common language”. By that I mean, just like I was talking to you face to face. Believe me when I tell you if I am talking to you face to face there will be errors. I will mispronounce something, I will use a wrong word, I will forget where I was and try to talk myself back to what I was trying to say and when all else fails I will make up a word to get my point across. In my opinion on the blog you can see this…in real life you hear it. Same thing.

    1. writing how you talk/ speak. that i think i’ve got covered. and agreed, i prefer to read that on here too. but, there are grammar nazis running about – judging, judging – sometimes one is living in my own head. and that’s the point i think, to hit publish despite the imperfections. well, at least it is for me at the moment. much love, mg, much love. xoxo, sm

  23. Fiction scares the piss out of me. I am much safer writing what I know based on things in my memory bank. Not manifesting them.

    That’s why I am trying writing fiction based on true events. Win win, no?

    1. wow. i MUST know how that turns out for you. i just find fiction feckin’ hard. in the classic/ book sense. sometimes i can churn out a decent fictional short story. my very first post on this blog was like that and i thought it was alright. but, i tried to write a 20 chapter fiction book. the first chapter was amaze-balls. the next 19, just balls, if you know what i mean. loool. xoxo, sm

  24. I write like I talk. Apparently, so do you. Naturally I like that. So I find your grammar to be just fine. Spelling? Not so much. You don’t even know how to spell “Fuck”. (Which I tend to use a bit too much when talking and “usually” never when writing. You know us Canadians, we don’t like to offend anybody, at least with our language. I seem to do quite a lot of damage, however, shooting from the hip. For instance, where did you find those pink platforms? And why did you bring them home? Hi to wifesy. Love you. XOXO

    1. he who, let’s set the record ‘straight’ here. i do not own shoes like those clunk-monsters above. i am NOT that kinda lesbian. i do however own shoes like this: http://www.faite-en-chine.com/images/femmes-chaussures/C-l-Femmes-Chaussures-34.jpg — do with that, what you will! as for speaking like momma talks, i’ve got that down. so do you. not like momma, but like he who. and it’s why i like your writing so much. ;) and as for the feck misspellings, aren’t you glad i didn’t say ‘goddermned muthaslinger?’ that would be worse… xoxo, sm

      1. Oh…OH! Those kinky spikes must put you in a position of …could it be dominance?… over…over…Idon’twanttoeventhinkaboutit! Much. And why do I feel like I just got spanked?

  25. I’m usually okay with the nuts and bolts of writing and grammar, but too much telling and not enough showing is one major downfall. And I need to work on more tension, action, and conflict in my plots. Hmm, nothing major, there…. Ack!

  26. I have a problem with em dashes. You know, “–“. I use them all the time, as everything I think or write requires an aside or parenthetical statement (sans parentheses).

    Enjoyed your post.

  27. I like this post. A lot. It made me laugh out loud, literally, because I am imagining your voice. Naturally funny is infinitely better than Strunk & White funny, mostly because I can understand it.
    Cheers comma queenie, here’s to you.
    Godin’s proud.

  28. I type my blog, run it through the spelling and grammar program. My grammar is an amagamation of Brittish and American grammar. This comes from reading too many Brittish writters and watching too many Brittish shows. I then cut and paste it into the new post screen and run it thought that spelling and grammar checker. This goes pretty fast and I hit publish. Then I read it in the next screen and edit it at least once and sometimes up to three times. I often wish there was an edit feature for comments. My worst mistakes are when I comment on other people’s posts.

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