The Demise of Conversation

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(Silence ain’t golden)

Emoji this, emoji that.

Why bother to converse, or comment for that matter. Time is precious: an email blast of a thumbs-up, a one-click laugh or grimace…why that’s enough isn’t it? Friends, family and fans should be satisfied. After all, you DID click !

Who needs pen and paper (remember pens?). Heck, cursive handwriting isn’t even taught in our schools anymore.

Type an individualized message? Ain’t got time. Let the recipient fill in the mental blanks — and read our mind if they’ve time.

Your email inbox is as empty as your “snail mail” inbox.

But you’re “participating”, right? Well, your cursor is giving conversation the finger. Point & shoot.

 

 

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AA

No, not THAT “AA”.

I’m addressing those addicted to adjectives and adverbs.

The people (writers) who sleep with a thesaurus under their pillow in the hope that osmosis will enable them to impress readers with their erudition. The bigger (and more obscure) the word the better.

After all, who could deny that the vivid description they rendered of a pot of boiling water would fail to move a reader — it’s obvious that their “command” of the English language far exceeds that of the nimrods who volunteer their time to extricate themselves from the intricacies of exceptional prose?

By now you know…I’m a writer (at least I consider myself one). Write a little, read a lot (with the exception of zombie, vampire and apocalyptic tales which I eschew).

I confess that I am flummoxed (gob-smacked for you Brits) at the amount of paper and ink devoted to filling a page with unnecessary verbiage. (That’s “fancy words” for you junior college types <sarc>.)

So here’s a thought: listen to people talk, write the way people speak. Your clarity will be refreshing.

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PAIN

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Writing is easy, isn’t it? Get an idea, write it down and relax with a glass or two of wine as you admire your handiwork.

Come the dawn, the pain begins…you have to go back to that masterpiece and proofread it. How did those blunders find their way onto the page? You can spell better than that. Hell, you got A’s in English grammar. Yet, there they are…botched sentences, confusing construction and obscure messages. Jeesh !

But that’s OK. you put in the fixes. Put away the wine. It’s time for more pain…and the first EDIT. Ouch !

You’re so wordy. Curse that thesaurus…nobody talks like that. As you re-read your prose, even YOU have to consult the dictionary in order to translate this monstrosity.

So you slice and dice — it’s not a haircut, it’s a shaved head. Only way to get the basic story straight. Right? Now you’re talking.

Now, grab these aspirins (and some sleeping pills). You send your miraculous tome off to a publisher — or two — or ten. And wait.

Your hair grows back & turns gray. You wear out two pairs of shoes trudging to the mailbox daily.

At last it comes. After months of waiting you receive the first of many, many rejections. Super ouch !

So what do you do ? You’re a writer, so you write.

And start all over again.

 

 

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Sound the Alarm !

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The Fog Factor

As promised, I thought I’d share a little blurb about “fog”.

Back in the day (thankfully long ago), I was compelled to read/review numerous articles offered in academia. Yikes…a headache of the first magnitude!

Whatever. As the interminable years went by, I stumbled upon a concept that helped me enormously in sorting through the drivel & dreck.

I called it: “The Fog Factor”.

Simply put: take ANY treatise and count 100 words (excluding articles and prepositions).

THEN, count the number of words composed of three syllables or more.

THEN, divide by one hundred.

Voila! The fog factor — a good indication of the BS contained therein.

Ummm…plain English never goes out of style.

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How to Go Broke Writing Fiction

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Got your attention, huh?

If you analyze sales (many don’t), you’ll see lotsa successful authors of “How To” books: thousands of subjects, hundreds of strategies, dozens of schemes.

For fiction, not so much so. Why? Dunno for sure. But this I DO know — you can go broke attempting to bring your product to market. How? Here’s how:

  • Pick a “genre” or sub-genre or sub-sub genre. You immediately limit your potential audience.
  • You see a hot “niche” — something that’s selling well for someone else. So you decide to write to that market. Inevitably, your lack of passion and commitment thereto will shine forth. Result: returns — or no sales at all.
  • You spend a small fortune on proofing, editing, cover design and buy every book ever written on how to write.
  • You pay for reviews whose transparent mendacity is obvious to a casual reader. Five stars all the way.
  • You pay big bucks for an “agent” and receive zilch in return.
  • You pay a PR firm who sends out a torrent of blind press releases which are shredded upon receipt.
  • You print up a few hundred copies of your magnum opus that nobody wants. Hell, the ones you GIVE away end up as doorstops.

Get the picture? In the final analysis, even if you’ve produced a quality piece of work, only four letter words will ensure your success. (No, not those words !)

“Luck” and “hope”.

Just my opinion and, like some parts of the anatomy, everybody’s got one.

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Lest We Forget

Events that changed the world…

 

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PARTS

I’ve been here before. It was 100 years ago. I know, but time has a way of standing still.

It’s been an arduous search…looking for me. Over the decades I’ve visited them all: Tyne Cot — 11,965 dead of which 8,369 are unknown; Delville Wood — 5,523 dead, 3,953 unknown;

Meuse-Argonne: 14,246. 846 Unknown. And so many more. In France, throughout Belgium. All of the places I might be — to no avail.

Many, many men died during the Great War. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, were sacrificed

in “The War to End All Wars”. I was one of them. Their names, units and religious affiliation chiseled into a permanent remembrance of them

Each forever field has a full complement of inhabitants, many with their names memorialized in stone.

Many more, though, simply read: “Allied soldier known only unto God”.

At least their body or parts of it were found and given a forever home.

I wasn’t so lucky, but I am not alone.

I can still hear the refrains of the songs the replacements sang as they marched towards The Front:

♫ ♫ ♪ Mademoiselle from Armentierre, parlez vous… It’s a long way to Tipperary...”

♫ ♫ ♫ Over there, over there...”

We were all part of a great struggle, a grand strategy. We were part of a multinational alliance destined to defeat the hated Hun. Many of us never left, becoming a part of the land where we had fought.

There are those of us who had no family to leave behind, no one to mourn our loss, no one to remember us. So we wander these former battlefields in search of…I dunno…closure. And maybe, just maybe, someone will find some part of us and give us a name. We will be remembered.

There was a cross erected by some kind villagers after the fighting ended. They knew all too well how horrific the fighting had been. And they were grateful to those young men who wrested their freedom from the invaders. Good people. Kind people.

But the village had grown to a town and that town was growing too. The cross would have to be moved.

As was customary before any memorial could be relocated, archaeologists from the University of Brussels would have to ascertain that no relics or remains would be disturbed. A group of graduate students was assigned the task.

One spring day as they patiently sifted through the earth surrounding the cross, a student exclaimed:”I’ve found something!”

He held aloft an identity disc, now known as a “dog-tag”, that read:

“Lnc. Cpl. T. Maddow, 2nd Btn, 1st Gren. Dorchestershire, Cath.”

The cord had long ago rotted away. But the proximity of shards of bone and bits of cloth made it clear:

It was me. I wore it around my neck when the shell burst at my feet…a flash of blinding light, a thunderous roar. That is the moment I ceased to live.

Now they will take what’s left of me to join my brothers. I will have a name.

And I can rest in peace.

 

 

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Four Letter Words

No, not THOSE words !! A quirk of the English language: it is estimated that there are 454,230 four-letter words in our vocabulary. Here’s a fun challenge (I call it “The Four Letter Factor): look at your writing. Take 100 words (excluding articles and prepositions), count the four letter words and divide by 100. Voila! The four letter factor !! Not to be confused with “The Fog Factor” — subject for another post.

Who knew ??

 

 

 

 

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