Digital civility rools, or doesn’t

Vertically walleyed: A new affliction, an occupational hazard for the digitally connected and cool, a neologism of sorts coined right here and right now.

“My students tell me about an important new skill: it involves maintaining eye contact with someone while you text someone else; it’s hard, but it can be done.”

That’s from a great NY Times article by Sherry Turkle, “The Flight from Conversation.” And this advice has expanded my notion of what’s fittin’ and … Read more

Lexical entropy: Will meaning prevail? (Hopefully)

Only a year ago the forces of tradition prevailed (click on image):

 

 

Now the AP Stylebook has reversed its position. And in the streets there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth as right-thinking editors everywhere protest the onslaught of lexical entropy to the point, some fear, we’ll be left to describe human experience with nothing but “whatever” and “huh!”

In breaking news, Shakespeare has been disinterred by a team of archaeologists and mediums in search of … Read more

Save the semicolons

“[U]se of the semicolon is dwindling. Although colons were common as early as the 14th century, the semicolon was rare in English books before the 17th century. It has always been regarded as a useful hybrid—a separator that’s also a connector—but it’s a trinket beloved of people who want to show that they went to the right school.”

Henry Hitchings, “Is This the Future of Punctuation!?(Wall Street Journal, 22 Oct. 2011)

Rightfully, I think, there’s … Read more

Incoming, incoming! Or, the problem with glass houses


I’ve decided one of the comments on my last blog installment merits a post in itself, together with my response. This is from a friend and professional editor:

“Is “Eyes filled with disquiet” a full sentence or is it a noun modified by a phrase? Do you mean to say the eyes, they filled with disquiet? Or these are eyes that are filled with disquiet?”

My initial response:

“The latter, of course.”

Then, following further reflection:

If that isn’t “of … Read more

Stones hurled from a glass house

Bangkok Noir is enjoying favorable review, both locally and abroad. But I’d like to critique the second sentence of my own contribution to that story collection, “Hot Enough to Kill.” In fact, I suggest that readers take a pen and revise it.

Here’s the printed version (not mine—I swear that some gremlin on my computer vandalized the sentence; I have two copies of the story that read the way I wrote them, and two more corrupted versions):

Eyes are filled … Read more

Grundnorm of writing style


Dorothy Parker’s opinion of the most widely recognized writing style manual in the English language:

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

But those who nevertheless persevere and do become writers should understand this: One cardinal principle underlies all other rules of style, … Read more

Inspirational hobologoist aphorisms & epigrams

Insights into the hobologoist mindset.

Money corrupts.

Impecuniousness rools, OK!

 

 

 

Artists must suffer.

I have my principles.

Solipsism means never having to say you’re being corrupted by money and prizes.

I like semi-colons; commercial editors can go screw themselves.

I like [literary practice of your choice]; commercial editors can go screw themselves.

Hobologoists don’t write query letters.

Nobody ever read Antoine Blorschacterforth either.

Save the trees, save the bytes, save having to explain to critics why … Read more

Rules? I don’t need no stinkin’ rules

Well, maybe just a few.

A writer should find a good chair, e.g. Install it right there in front of  computer, pencil & pad, whatever, and then sit in it for extended periods, writing stuff.

Here’s a real lode of good advice from The Guardian10 rules for writing fiction from each of a bunch of prominent writers.

And here are five tips of my own, something I recently added to advice emerging from a Clarion Science Fiction and Read more

Qubital worlds save Pyramids from erosion by camel crap

Leary here. Wherever that might be (not to mention when).

Current affairs written on the wind (“mere ephemera,” according to my editor, which I didn’t ask). Right now, many of you folk back in 2011 will be fretting about political events in Egypt. The papers should be full of it. (You could still read newspapers back then, and they were often full of it.) No doubt the TV networks will be talking it up like they discovered Egypt only last … Read more

Jazz piano par excellence: FCCT Friday night happy hour

Bob King’s pianos don’t believe in musical spaces. This rendition of “Night in Tunisia,” e.g., presents a solid wall of brilliant but super-dense improvisation. When Bob’s in this mode, he says, the piano starts playing him. He’s capable of playing the most delicate, subtlest jazz you could want; but his piano doesn’t always want him to play it this way. So Bob can appear to resist, asserting his basic autonomy by demolishing a piano with his bare … Read more