Sneaky Bastards

Posted: May 15, 2011 in ADHD, writing
Tags: , , ,

It’s funny:  when you take pride in being unique, there are little things that poke you in the back to prove you are not.  That you’re just another variation on a common theme.

Like words, for example.  I like words a lot, even though I find myself sometimes frustrated at the dearth of just the *right* words required to make a point, or to paint a picture.  In writing my book, I’ve taken inspiration from my favourite author, Tom Robbins, who can paint vast majestic vistas with a paucity of Just The Right Words (if you’ve read Jitterbug Perfume you’ll know what I mean).

I like words so much that I pretty much inhale books.  Give me a good book one day and I’ll hand it back to you the next.  Boring words, like those found in manuals, or in a long treatise will only serve to pinch out the flame of whatever desire I had for the object being discussed.  I can rarely finish those.

I get bored way too easily for my own good.  (Yes, that is part of the ADD curse/blessing, in case you were wondering)

It wasn’t all that surprising to discover the appeal of Twitter.  Each tweet is limited to 140 characters, which is ideal because there’s no chance to get bored.  You have time to read (or post) one thought only.  This is good exercise for writers because you have to find creative ways to make your point with as few words as possible.  The bane of every writer, believe it or not, is too many words.  “In order to” is an example of a poor choice.  I took out the garbage in order to make the place smell better would make an editor get out his red pen.  So you turn it around, creatively, to make a more compelling point without losing the essence of what you said:

The kitchen’s ambience caused my eyes to water, and my nose to run.  Not in joy or sickness but in abject horror.  The wallpaper frowned and threatened to peel.  The laughing nemesis was that rotten carton of milk that my darling mate (She Who Must Be Forgiven Everything Just Because)  had deposited into the bin.  My stomach took a hairball hint from the cat, and began its dark dance, up against my oesophagus.   Chest heaving, I grabbed the bag.  There was no time to search for a twist-tie – I just took it and ran down the hall to my symbiotic saviour – the garbage chute, with its sticky handle, crusted with god-knows-what.  Opening it quickly, I vomited the hellish bag of death down its dark gullet.

So, OK – more words were used but at least we eliminated the dreaded “in order to”, didn’t we?

Lately, through my tweets, I’ve discovered a worrisome thing:  it appears that some common expressions have found their way into my lexicon.  Some are obvious, and therefore easy to spot, while others are elusive and subtle.  “Apparently” – is a word used as a comic device in many tweets, usually expressed after making an outrageous comment.  After commenting on that guy’s shoes, I suddenly realized I left my testicles in my other coat pocket.  Apparently.

It’s ok when used one or two times, but when everyone on Twitter starts using it, it gets old fast.

(It gets old fast, is another example of a too-often used phrase.  Time to retire it.)

Another sneaky word is “totally”.  A recent tweet from yours truly, based upon an event at work:

Hot Jamaican babe microwaves some oatmeal.

Me: “are you putting some brown sugar on that?”

*awkward silence*

Then we totally made out.

Once again, “totally” is being used as an expression of emphasis, like a question mark.  In using it, I unconsciously followed the pack instead of going for a unique stance.

Time to declare war on these little bastards.  We must remain vigilant.

That is all.

(Damn.  Another one)

  1. I’m giggling. The other day I met someone who told me, “You think too much.” I replied, “And that’s a bad thing?” — I love this post. Makes me think about how I write. Gracias!


    • wolfshades says:

      “You think too much”. *laughing* How many times have I heard that? Even heard it from my dad one time. Seems weird, doesn’t it? Like, how else would you think? Despite what some might think, there’s no such thing as a “turn the thoughts off” switch. :)


  2. Last summer I met a young woman who asked me to read her nascent blog and critique it. I was reluctant to do so because I suspected she really just wanted my praise. After all, she introduced herself as an aspiring writer with “a real gift.” In my experience, when people announce their giftedness, funniness, etc. they’re generally not all that gifted or funny.

    I was spot on. The blog was painful to read. It was easily 5,000 words and without white space. Yeah. Painful. Totally. <— :)

    I told her to par it down, find the point she was trying to make and stick with it, edit, get it down to 700 words or less. She looked at me like I was insane and said she'd be letting her readers down if she didn't write at least 4,000 words per blog. Per blog. 4,000.

    I may have included some unnecessary words here. May have. A few. (I'm cracking myself up.) But seriously…

    What was my point?


    • wolfshades says:

      4000 words? Man oh man. So hard to be gentle with someone who is clearly insane isn’t it? When what you really want to say is “who gave you the idea you were a gifted writer? Special maybe, in a not so good way, but gifted? Nuh uh.”

      Hard not to cringe when someone needy pounces on you for affirmation. I admit to cowardice, and typically look for a speedy way out. “Gotta go wash my cat” “But you don’t have a cat” “Cat? I’m sorry, I meant car” “You don’t have one of those either” “OKSEEYOUBYE”


      • I tried to get out of it but she was insistent. I don’t think it occurred to her that I might actually find anything to critique. She was that confident, unfortunately so.

        In my previous comment, I was attempting to illustrate that there are times when seemingly superfluous words serve a purpose, convey personality or humor, etc. I liked the way I repeatedly repeated myself – ;) – in my comment but I didn’t like the way the young woman I mentioned weighted her blog with wordiness.

        I’m typing and all I hear is blah blah blah… Maybe I’m the one who needs to put a cap on it. *wry smile* And maybe that’s at least partly why I can’t seem to write anymore.


        • I meant to comment on your new blog layout. I LIKE IT! :D


          • wolfshades says:

            Glad you like the layout. As you can tell from the placement of these replies, it’s not entirely working out. So I don’t know if I’ll stick with it. May have to check out some other themes, first. I admire how WordPress lets you test them out using your own active blogs as guinea pigs.


        • wolfshades says:

          That’s true about personality mandating some extra words. Maybe I’m labeling this wrong, and it’s not the extra words that pain me. Maybe it’s the penchant for following the pack’s vernacular. Totally. That’s it. :)

          I enjoy throwing a few “valley guy” words around, just to shake things up, sometimes. At least it blows the cobwebs off of the usual vernacular.



  3. izziedarling says:

    TOTALLY love this post, wolf :)


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